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Akron woman celebrating progress at Walk MS

4/25/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Janice Wedge, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2006, is shown with her husband, Lucius, at their West Akron home. Wedge plans to participate in the Walk MS event at The University of Akron April 28.
Photo: Kathleen Folkerth
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Just a few years ago, Janice Wedge could barely walk.

After she began experiencing numbness in her right arm and it began spreading, Wedge spent time in the emergency room and doctors’ offices before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006.

Since then, Wedge has actively pursued treatments for her symptoms, taking part in physical therapy and a drug trial, both of which have helped her overcome some of the challenges of the disease. And today, Wedge, 32, walks again.

“I’m very lucky so far,” she said. “I’ve made tremendous improvements and I have to keep reminding myself of that.”

She credits the MS Society with helping her through the past few years, as well as the Oak Clinic for MS in Green.

To help celebrate her progress and bring attention to MS and the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National MS Society, Wedge plans to participate in this year’s Walk MS April 28 at the University of Akron’s (UA) Stile Athletics Field House.

“I always wanted to be able to walk it,” she said. “The only way I have gotten this far is I’ve gotten help, and I have to give back.”

She’s also doing it for the memory of friend Sally Slocum, a retired UA English professor who died earlier this year. Slocum also had MS.

“This woman didn’t let MS stop her at all,” Wedge said.

To help drum up sponsors for her participation, Wedge used Facebook to share excerpts of a journal she wrote when she was first diagnosed. She posted them every day in March, which is MS awareness month.

“I didn’t want to just say, ‘MS is out there, beware!’” she said, adding that so far she’s raised $2,500.

Wedge and her husband, Lucius, met in college in Roanoke, Va. They moved to Akron in 2004 so he could pursue his graduate degrees in history at UA.

They hadn’t been married long when Wedge was diagnosed with MS, and Lucius, who teaches classes at UA and two other colleges as an adjunct, had to become her caretaker.

“We were very young when this hit,” Wedge said. “At first, he had to do everything. He had to help me walk.”

Wedge is happy she can now be independent most of the time, but her husband is still there to help her when she needs it. But one thing he won’t be helping her with is Walk MS.

“I wanted to do this one on my own,” she said, noting that Lucius will be a spectator and cheer her on.

The Buckeye Chapter of the MS Society is hosting Walk MS to raise funds for local programs, services and medical research. The society says more than 20,000 Ohioans are living with MS.

“We want to raise awareness and raise funds to help people with MS,” said Janet Kramer, president of the Buckeye Chapter. “Our ultimate goal is to find a cure so we can create a world free of MS.”

Wedge said she hopes that by bringing attention to MS and the walk, she can do her part to help others.

“I hope this gives a chance for them to continue the programs they provide,” she said. “I know I will continue needing help, but perhaps others can get help, as well.”

For more information about MS or Walk MS, call 800-344-4867 or go to www.MSohiowalk.org.

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