Next week, Amunni Shop in downtown St Clair will host Shine the Spotlight to Fight MS, a fundraising event to raise money to fight against multiple sclerosis. For the shop owner, the cause is one close to her heart.
Multiple sclerosis, commonly known as MS, is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, causing temporary or long-term symptoms such as numbness, fatigue, memory problems, mood changes, blindness and/or paralysis. Currently, the exact cause of the condition is unknown.
10% of all sales on Thursday, June 23, the day of the event, will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) Michigan Chapter. In years past, an annual MS Walk was held over Memorial Day weekend in St. Clair, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I thought we had to do something, organize a do-it-yourself fundraiser. What better way to have fun, to bring women together to shop,” says Ann Marie Oldford, owner of the boutique, which offers women’s clothing and accessories.
MS advocate and close friend of Oldford, Heather Benson will be present at the event and available to answer any questions about MS. Benson was diagnosed with the disease just over 16 years ago when she and Benson’s children were in kindergarten.
“At that time there were only 3 therapeutic treatments available for MS. Now there are over 23,” Benson says.
Suffering from dizziness, migraines, vertigo and bladder problems, Benson’s symptoms began to appear shortly after the birth of her first son.
“At first they thought I was postpartum, then I was misdiagnosed with interstitial cystitis,” she says. “After I had numbness on the right side of my face, my GP ordered an MRI [magnetic resonance imaging] then came my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
Now Benson speaks nationwide to share her story to spread hope, encourage others to seek early diagnosis, and direct them to available resources.
“The key to getting the right treatment is early diagnosis,” she says. “I call it snowflake disease because no two people’s symptoms are alike. You know your body. If something’s wrong, get it checked out.
The NMSS offers families, loved ones, healthcare providers, volunteers, donors and anyone seeking a world without MS the opportunity to come together and connect. The organization’s mission is to halt the progression of disease, restore function and find a cure.
“We make progress with people who share their stories,” says Tammy Willis, NMSS Michigan chapter president. “Our goal is to provide you with the resources you need, whether it’s medication, finding the right treatment, a neurologist in your area, or even a ride to an appointment. “
The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the St. Clair Riverview Plaza with live music from Brian Pavlov in the courtyard. Makeup artist consultant Charlotte Tilbury will also be offering mini makeovers from 5-8 p.m.