National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Weeks

March 10, 2011 10:04:40 AM PST
National MS Awareness Week in Chicago is March 7-13, and the Greater Illinois Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is asking everyone: What does MS= to you?

Whether you're touched by MS or not, you surely have an answer. MS Awareness Week encourages everyone to demonstrate a commitment to a world free of MS, inviting people to join the movement and acknowledging people who are already taking action.

The week, officially proclaimed such in Chicago by Mayor Richard M. Daley, kicks off with the official release of the 2011 It's Double Time Illinois Lottery Instant-Win ticket for MS on March 7. 2011. This marks the 4th year that the special MS ticket will be sold, with tickets from previous years raising more than $3.6 million in net proceeds for MS research grants awarded in Illinois. This money funds important research--taking place in Illinois--like early studies and clinical trials of promising drugs to treat the disease. Recipients of these grants include:

  • Roumen Balabanov, MD, Rush University Medical Center
    "Role of IRF-1 in oligodendrocytes"
  • Ernesto Bongarzone, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago
    "Neurogenic responses in multiple sclerosis"
  • Malabendu Jana, Ph.D., Rush University Medical Center
    "Regulation of Lingo-1 by PPAR-beta"

There is much to celebrate this MS Awareness Week: last fall, the FDA approved the first oral medication that alters the course of MS, rather than simply addressing symptoms. Gilenya?, manufactured by Novartis, is available by prescription. While the Society does not endorse particular drugs or treatments, we are excited by all developments that improve the lives of those living with MS.

Nationally--and in the rest of Illinois, as proclaimed by Governor Pat Quinn--MS Awareness week will be celebrated March 14-20. Chicago simply couldn't wait that long to start. Events across the state throughout March will provide plenty of opportunities to celebrate and Join the Movement to help improve the lives of the 20,000 people and their families affected by MS in Illinois. In Chicago, prominent businesses and buildings will light up orange or offer marquee space to promote MS Awareness. The Tootsie Roll Company has donated thousands of orange Tootsie Pops--hand-sorted at the factory to support MS Awareness week activities--which will be distributed, along with literature, throughout downtown Chicago by orange-clad volunteers.

Also during MS Awareness Week, thousands of public service announcements will be heard on local radio, including some spots recorded by host of "The Amazing Race," Phil Keoghan, some featuring local people sharing their MS stories, and some offering information on how listeners can join the movement.

MS Action Days--scheduled for March 29-30--will bring activists, volunteers and MS Society staff together in Springfield to meet with congressional leaders and take action in a grassroots movement.

Activities don't end when March does. There will be an opportunity to join the movement at the Greater Illinois Chapter's annual Half-Court Classic basketball tournament on the Chicago Bulls' home court, in the United Center on Saturday, April 2. Advanced registration and a fundraising commitment are required.

About MS: Every hour in the United States, someone is diagnosed with MS, an unpredictable, often disabling, autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. MS affects more than 20,000 people in Illinois, 400,000 in the U.S. and 2.5 million worldwide. It interrupts the flow of information between the brain and the body and stops people from moving.

About the Greater Illinois Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society: We mobilize people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS. Our vision is a world free of MS. Learn more and Join the Movement at