Former gold medalist raising awareness of MS

MS Walk takes place at Willows Beach May 28

Shauna Flath knows what it’s like to be at the top of her game.

The 46-year-old Greater Victoria resident is a gold medalist and world champion. She achieved national success when she coached the Canadian Squash team, helping to lift them to a gold-medal win during the 2011 Pan Am Games.

But in recent years she’s been forced to slow down both athletically and in her career, as she’s been living with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system and can cause symptoms of extreme fatigue, lack of coordination, weakness, inpaired sensation and vision problems among other things.

The condition has made Flath realize her body has its limits.

“I have to be more cognisant and aware of ensuring to the best of my ability to rest, keep life low-key, avoiding stress and the busyness of life,” she said. “My friends fully understand my limitations and respect that I can’t always do everything.”

But the diagnosis hasn’t stopped Flath from giving back to the community. For the past seven years, Flath and her team, Squash MS, have raised more than $30,000 for the MS Walk Victoria. Flath believes a cure can still be found one day.

“We thought we could raise awareness about the disease, gain some support and assist in our own little way by fundraising,” she said. “This is what we’re doing to find a cure for the disease.”

Flath is one of hundreds of people who will be taking part in the annual Scotiabank MS Walk on Sunday, May 28. As part of the event, more than a dozen communities across the province including the Comox Valley, Duncan and Nanaimo and more than 4,000 participants, will walk to raise awareness of the disease.

In Victoria, the three or six-kilometre walk takes place at Willows Beach. Check in time is 12:30 p.m., and the walk begins at 2 p.m.

Funds raised go towards research, and programs and services offered by the society to help people manage and cope with the disease, such as support groups and equipment provision.

According to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, roughly 12,000 British Columbians live with MS. For more information on the walk visit mswalks.ca.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com

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