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'Lifelong journey': Annual Walk MS event happening Saturday in Billings

'Lifelong journey': Annual Walk MS event happening Saturday in Billings
Posted at 6:28 PM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-03 12:41:34-04

BILLINGS — For three decades, Walk MS participants come together to raise awareness and money for multiple sclerosis, an immune disease that heavily impacts those diagnosed.

As Melissa Welbes walks through life, many can’t see that she’s fighting a hidden battle with MS.

“It definitely has its ups and downs,” Welbes said on Thursday. “Right now, it’s awesome.”

MS, or multiple sclerosis, is an immune disease that impacts cognitive, emotional, motor, sensory, and visual areas. For Welbes, it started with her sight almost seven years ago.

“There are times when it is miserable and uncomfortable and things hurt,” Welbes said. “The first probably year and a half of my life with MS, there was a lot of trips to the ER.”

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, around 2.3 million people in the world have been diagnosed with MS and Welbes knows the difficulties it can bring. Each year, she receives two injections of medication. It is eight hours of her life that costs $240,000.

“It's a lifelong journey that people are on and it is painful and expensive,” Welbes said. “Pretty rare now to hear of somebody that doesn’t have some sort of connection to MS.”

Brandi Christianson is the development manager for Walk MS, which has been held for over 30 years in Billings to help raise money to support MS patients.

“Being connected to the national MS society, you just, no one ever has to be alone in their journey,” Christianson said.

She said there are over 2,200 people in Montana with MS, but those are just the people who have connected with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“We have close to 30 teams that are signed up. Right now we’re sitting at 199 participants,” Christianson said.

'Lifelong journey': Annual Walk MS event happening Saturday in Billings

Welbes is a team captain and has participated in the walk since her diagnosis.

“It's really overwhelming to see so many people coming together to be in one location to support something that I deal with daily,” Welbes said.

To find out more information on how to participate or volunteer for the walk event that is happening this Saturday at St. Johns Pavilion, click here.