NILES - Champion resident Nicole Sandrella learned earlier this year that she had multiple sclerosis. She and others battling MS wanting to help raise awareness formed teams for a recent fundraiser walk at Eastwood Field in Niles.
Greg Kovach, director of outreach services for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Mahoning Valley chapter, said there are MS chapters in 64 Ohio counties.
More than 200 participants took part in the walk, which helps raise money for research to find a cure for multiple sclerosis.
Sandrella, 20, was among 15 members on Team Nicole, which raised more than $8,000. Her team, which had the theme ''Just Keep Swimming for MS,'' included parents, siblings and friends.
The three-mile walk was around the parking lot outside Eastwood Field was led by Scrappy, the team mascot for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
Sandrella, a student at Kent State University at Trumbull, has been approved for an internship at the MS Society this summer.
"Before I was diagnosed, I spent months in and out of the hospital in attempts to figure out what was happening to my body. It had gone completely numb and my hands became very difficult to work with ... The disorder was crippling but through medication and therapy I made immense progress," she said.
Multiple sclerosis causes numbness, tingling in the body, an imbalance in equilibrium or balance, and memory loss.
Sandrella said she wants to make a difference in the lives of people who have MS.
"Every day was a challenge, but I am choosing to look beyond the difficulties because it is important to me to find a cure for this disease that affects millions worldwide,'' Sandrella said.
Kovach said most of the people walking do so in honor of someone they love.
Money raised will fund local programs to help MS victims and their families. The walk also helps support research projects in Ohio. Local MS support groups also help.
One group meets at 6:30 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month at Knights of Columbus Hall in Warren The next meeting is May 21 with speaker from Nova Care on physical therapy.