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Colleen Sazama and Mary Chase, left to right, will be visiting Perham area businesses and community members late this week to raise awareness for their cause. Submitted photo

Building connections to fight a destructive disease

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Mary Chase and Colleen Sazama will be out and about in Perham again this week, spreading the word to friends, family and community members about what Multiple Sclerosis is and how people are joining in the fight against it.

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Chase and Sazama have gotten to be familiar faces in town over the past several years, annually meeting with business owners and local residents to raise awareness of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The women are co-facilitators of Perham’s Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Self Help and Care Partner groups.

This week, March 3-9, is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week, and in recognition of this, Chase and Sazama will be focusing on building the very thing MS destroys – connections.

MS is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. It interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and the rest of the body.

MS affects each individual differently. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or impaired vision. Symptoms may come and go, appear in any combination, and be mild, moderate or severe. It is not contagious, and it is rarely fatal, but it is unpredictable. 

A new MS diagnosis is made each hour. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and about two thirds are women. The disease is found more frequently among people raised in colder climates.

To raise awareness about MS, as well as money to go toward research for a cause and cure, a Walk MS fundraiser is held every year in Fergus Falls. This year’s walk will take place at Minnesota State Community and Technical College on May 4 from noon to 2 p.m. 

The local team that participates in the walk, Perham’s “Go-Getters,” was formed in 2000. Since then, team members have continued to make the community more aware of what they do and why they do it.   

The local MS Self Help Group and Care Partner Group both meet on the last Tuesday of the month at Calvary Lutheran Church in Perham, starting at 1 p.m. The groups help people diagnosed with MS, and their caregivers, connect with other people affected by the condition.

For more information or to support the “Go-Getters,” contact Mary Chase at 218-298-0561 or Colleen Sazama at 218-758-2502.

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