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On the fast track to fundraising

LINDSEY KRUSEN
summit daily news
Summit County CO Colorado
Special to the DailyFinishers at last year's Wild West MS Walkabout stand (and sit) at the finish line in Ft. Collins.
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BRECKENRIDGE ” On the Wild West MS Walkabout’s website, Kendra Driemeyer lists her favorite quote, courtesy of Katherine Hepburn: “If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun.” You might miss all the money, too.

When the Colorado Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society decided to stop sponsoring their annual 50-mile, three-day benefit walk, Driemeyer kept moving. Instead of letting the fundraiser die, she and 13 other people decided to create their own version of the event.

“Fourteen of us came together and said, ‘We’re not going to stop,'” she said.

That was in 2005, and last year ” the first year of the Wild West MS Walkabout ” the three-day, 50-mile event raised over $80,000 for the disease. Funds from the walkabout have started a granting process through the Center for Neurorehabilitation Services Foundation, an independent clinic based out of Fort Collins.

“We have no restrictions on how to do things,” Driemeyer said, explaining the group’s avant garde take on networking and fundraising.

Driemeyer has pulled in cash for MS patients and research from a silent auction for three years. This year’s auction will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday at Mi Casa Cantina in Breckenridge. In 2006, the auction raised over $5,000 for the cause, and the Breckenridge resident is hoping that amount will increase this time around.

The list of the auction’s donors speaks to the generosity of the Summit County community, which Driemeyer described as central to her success. Thirty-one third-year donors run in small type down a flyer, showing the local long-term supporters. Almost as many run down the second- and first-year lists, hinting at the event’s future.

All money raised will go to a very pressing need, considering that one in 580 Colorado residents have MS, with a total of 8,500 cases in the state. Often called “the prime-of-life disease,” an MS diagnosis usually comes between the ages of 20 and 50, with 73 percent of those cases being women.

Driemeyer, who serves as the walkabout’s walker coordinator, watched her brother suffer when he was diagnosed with the disease in 1980.

“That was back when they didn’t really have a grip of what was going on with it or how to treat it,” Driemeyer said as she described the struggles her brother, who was diagnosed at 31, went through. “The rest of his life was pretty sad. He didn’t get the help he needed mentally, physically or anything like that.”

Medical advances have improved the quality of life for MS patients these days, and some even participate in the walkabout. Driemeyer said some people do the event in wheelchairs, others in electric wheelchairs, and some walk without aid.

In all, 85 people are signed up for the walkabout, with each of those asked to raise at least $750 each. All of that money, like the silent auction proceeds, goes to help those with MS. With almost 40 more participants than last year, Driemeyer said she expects fundraising to surpass the $80,000 mark.

The walkabout will be held August 24-26 in Ft. Collins.

Lindsey Krusen can be reached at lkrusen@summitdaily.com, or at (970) 668-4620.


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