After more than 30 years, a Dorchester man will reach his fundraising goal of $1 million to fight multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic disease that affects more Canadians than the rest of the world.
Barry Travnicek’s work began in 1991 after his sister, Lynne, was diagnosed with MS, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, following two carpal tunnel surgeries.
“I got a call from my brother-in-law saying my sister had just been diagnosed with MS and my reaction to him was, ‘What is this?’ And how can we fix it? [But] I had no idea what MS was at the time,” Travnicek said.
According to MS Canada, formerly the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, MS is “unpredictable” and affects people differently. The disease attacks myelin – the protective covering around nerves – causing inflammation and often damaging the myelin.
As a result, the disease often affects the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve, leading to problems with vision, memory, balance and mobility.
“It is an episodic disability, meaning the severity and duration of illness and disability can vary and is often followed by periods of well-being,” according to PS Canada. “It can also be progressive.”
The company also points out that Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world, with approximately 90,000 Canadians living with the disease.
On average, 12 Canadians are diagnosed with MS every day, and most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 49.
“It’s incurable,” Travnicek said, sharing the impact it had on her sister. “Two years after diagnosis, she was in a wheelchair. »
He told PKBNEWS his sister endured numerous hospital stays and lost her independence as her condition progressed. Ultimately, it cost him his life.
“We saw the progression of what the disease did to her and, unfortunately, it didn’t end well,” Travnicek said, adding that Saturday would mark the fifth anniversary of her sister’s death.
“She was always my big sister and she took care of us when we were young,” he remembers. “As the years went by, we started hanging out even more and became even closer than usual.”
After learning of his diagnosis, Travnicek began raising money for research, which he continues to do today.
He has been participating in MS Canada’s summer fundraising event, the 150 kilometer Grand Bend to London MS Bike, for 33 years, as long as the event has been running.
“When I started, I hadn’t ridden a bike since I bought my first car, so those first two years were painful at times, to say the least,” a- he declared. “But in the end, riding a bike that far, whether you’re used to it or not, is a lot easier than living with the disease we’re trying to cure.”
Travnicek also raises money by coaching a baseball league and he sends mailers to about 500 businesses in and around London.
He told PKBNEWS that more than a decade ago he responded to a local call for charitable partners from George Karigan, owner of the East Side Bar & Grill at 750 Hamilton Rd.
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“My contact at the MS Society at the time told me that this bar in London was looking for someone to run a 50/50 draw on Fridays. And, as an outside salesperson, no one wants to see me on Friday afternoon anyway, so we decided to give it a shot,” he said.
At the time, Karigan had just taken over the bar and wanted to continue the previous owner’s tradition of a weekly 50/50 drawing. Since then, and every Friday night for the past 16 years, the two have held a raffle at the east London bar, raising more than $590,000.
“It was definitely the right decision,” Travnicek said. “It’s also really humbling, because very few of these clients on the East Side have any experience with MS… But at the end of each year, we kind of do a presentation to show how much we have collected, and this place just goes wild.
“They’re clapping and congratulating each other, and I think it’s because they’re all really invested in this now.”
According to Travnicek, this Friday’s drawing will hopefully help them reach their fundraising goal of $1 million for MS.
“By the time we get to $831 for the winner and $831 for the MS Society, we will hit the million dollar mark, and that will happen tonight (Friday),” he said. declared.
Reflecting on this fast-approaching milestone, Travnicek thought about his sister and imagined how she would react to the upcoming milestone.
“She would be happy, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “Even before or after every bike ride, I always called him to tell him how much money I raised that year. We’ve always kind of said that “this is great” and “this might be the year,” but now it’s all a carryover from that.
“We always work and do this together.”
However, he added that “in his memory, and in the memory of the more than 90,000 Canadians currently living with MS, we are not going to stop there, that’s for sure.”