Watching his aunt struggle with multiple sclerosis, X Games gold medalist Tom Wallisch knows how the disease can weigh down those who suffer from it, making even simple tasks like walking seem exhausting. That’s why at Saturday’s MS Walk fundraiser, Wallisch is walking the three-mile race in ski boots.
Wallisch (pictured), who won gold for the slopestyle ski event at the Winter X Games XVI, will be walking with thousands of other participants—albeit a little slower and more awkwardly than most—at the 23rd annual Walk MS Salt Lake City fundraiser.
The event is raising funds to fight the debilitating disease that afflicts more than 2 million people worldwide and over 400,000 in the United States. Wallisch’s aunt is one of those afflicted and the inspiration for him to give back to the community by raising awareness of the disease. For affecting so many people, Wallisch says that it’s often misunderstood by those not affected since the symptoms of the disease can come on strong and leave just as quickly.
“A lot of people in general don’t realize how bad the symptoms can get because they are so off and on.” Wallisch says. “When it’s behind closed doors it's not as easy to see whether it’s having a seizure, losing the use of arms and legs or vision—it’s stuff that goes in waves. “With my aunt, I spent so much time with her when she’s completely normal, you’d never think anything was wrong,” Wallisch says. “Other times, she had horrible, stroke-like symptoms and then was out for days.”
Wallisch knows his boots weren’t made for walking, but he still hopes they will cause some talking -- and generate more interest in raising funds to find a cure to the disease.
Those still interested in signing up can visit the event website for more information, or sign up at the registration table Saturday morning starting at 8 a.m.
To walk or just to watch and learn more, check out the event, Saturday, April 28, 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., at the Gateway Grand Hall 90 S. 400 West.
Above photo taken by Tom Kelly