Fundraiser’s back Saturday to help MS patient, othersNo matter what health challenge Mary McHardy faces, the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patient from Ellsworth keeps on fighting.
By: Bill Kirk, staff correspondent, River Falls Journal
No matter what health challenge Mary McHardy faces, the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patient from Ellsworth keeps on fighting.
The latest challenge was a bout with pneumonia which put her in Hudson’s hospital for three days, McHardy said Thursday. Aware her mother, Virginia Murphy, had previously experienced the illness, she suspected what was coming when she started suffering shortness of breath and felt fullness in her chest.
“Whenever I get sick, even with a cold, the MS gets aggravated all the more,” she said while in her wheelchair at home, indicating she’d totally lost feeling in her legs.
McHardy was released from the hospital a week earlier, as soon as she could stand up enough to transfer herself from bed to chair, she said. Nonetheless, she regretted not having the mobility she’d achieved before her hospitalization, especially with the fourth annual MS fundraiser sponsored by her Team M&Ms coming up this Saturday at The Valley Bar and Grill west of Ellsworth.
“Most of the time, I am in my chair,” she said, resigned to her condition, which she admitted has worsened since she was diagnosed with MS a little over four years ago.
At first, she occasionally fell while walking, she remembered. Later, she had to increasingly rely on a walker and, finally, on the chair. One positive development was getting upgraded wheels last year around this time; her present power model offers an elevator option, enabling her to rise above her kitchen stovetop when cooking, for example.
She took the new chair to the Twin Cities MS Walk last May, pleased to be able to join Team M&Ms (McHardy and Murphy), including members of her family, there.
“I’ve been trying to get them to change it into a walk and roll,” she said about the event.
She hopes to attend again when it returns on May 3, she said. The course, which once began at Minnesota’s State Capitol in St. Paul, more recently was reduced to six miles on a route beginning at Minnehaha Falls and ending in the park where those falls are located.
McHardy said MS affects different people who have it differently. Hers is primary progressive, a rare kind. She told how she shuns the cold, grateful for the 90-degree weather she enjoyed on an annual family vacation in February to Acapulco. Yet, when she invited another MS patient along to such warmer climes, that person’s response was being unable to take the heat.
“MS attacks the nervous system, so it depends on whichever nerve goes haywire,” McHardy said to explain how it varies among patients.
Despite her fondness for sun and warmth, she admitted it’s bad for her to get too much of either, noting her legs can end up “feeling like marshmallows.”
She was mindful of the recent vacation because the grand prize for Saturday’s fundraiser is a one-week stay at a Mayan Palace Resort—the one where her family stayed in Acapulco, or in Riviera Maya, Nuevo Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta or Puerto Penasco. Accommodations feature a kitchen, two bedrooms with two full baths and sleeping for six adults plus two children. The winner can also opt to stay stateside instead, if desired. Tickets for the grand prize are $10 each (call 273-5939) and holders don’t need to be present to win.
Among other prizes are two Minnesota Twins vs. Milwaukee Brewers tickets (behind home plate) and four Minnesota Wild tickets. The list also shows a team autographed Green Bay Packers football, car GPS navigation system, $100 Target gift card, $100 Cub Foods gift card, dual portable DVD player, Country Splash tickets, 3M NASCAR items, gift certificates, Country Jam tickets, a digital camcorder and more. Tickets sold the day of the raffle are $1 each and those holders must be present to win.
Other attractions planned on Saturday are a Wii bowling tourney and a Euchre tourney at 4 p.m., a raffle and silent auction starting at 7 p.m., and live music by “Deuce” beginning at 9 p.m. R.B.’s pork sandwiches will be available.
New this year will be a portion of fundraiser proceeds going toward a water wheelchair for the Klaas-Jonas Community Swimming Pool in Ellsworth. McHardy said being in water up to her waist helps her to walk under water, but although she can make her way into the local pool by holding onto a railing, the water depth isn’t sufficient once the railing ends.
The water wheelchair has big balloon tires and special ball bearings for its purpose, she said, having used one for water therapy while at Courage Center in Stillwater, Minn. The most inexpensive model she’s seen costs around $800. Fundraiser organizers hope the event will generate enough money for a quality model along with a significant donation to their main cause: The MS Society.
“I don’t know what I’d do without their help,” she said of the society.
She described her daughter, Heather, as the “founder” of the fundraiser, handling up to 75% of the organizing. Heather’s husband is Danny Merta. McHardy and husband Rollie also have a son Bob; he and wife Angie have three children: Alyssa, age seven, Tanner, five, and Maggie, one. They have another daughter as well, Carrie; she and her husband Jason have two children: Jaylen, two, and Carson, four months.
They’ll all be at Saturday’s fundraiser supporting their mother, mother-in-law and grandmother, she said. It was originally to be held the second Sunday in April, but was moved ahead a week to not conflict with Easter.
Last year, Team M&Ms turned over more than $14,000 to the MS Society.