When she was 8 years old, Julia Purrington’s family received bad news. Her father had been diagnosed with primary-progressive multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body.
Purrington decided to take a stand against MS when she was in seventh grade and has been involved in raising awareness ever since.
As a freshman pre-law major at UNM, Purrington has revived Lobos for a Cure, a team of students who participate in Walk MS, an annual fundraiser to support programs for those affected by the disease.
Lobos for a Cure stopped meeting a few years ago when its previous team captain left the group, she said.
This will be Purrington’s seventh year participating in Walk MS. Last year she helped raise over $5,000, which made her a top fundraiser.
“I walk for those who can’t,” Purrington said. “That’s why it matters so much to me to do this walk, because I see people there who are in wheelchairs and they still do the whole course. Last year my dad did it for the first time. He is able to walk short distances but if he has to walk more than half a mile he needs a wheelchair. His walk was incredible.”
Walk MS is hosted by the National MS Society. They aim to raise $129,000 this year from fundraisers, donors and partners in the Albuquerque area. Walk MS in Albuquerque is one of 32 Walk MS events that take place in the Society’s south central region, according to a press release.
“Walk MS: Albuquerque is a crucial fundraising and awareness event that contributes to the Society’s overall mission,” Maggie Schold, the Society’s south central senior development manager, said in a press release. “Together we can continue the driving force to stop disease progression, restore function and end MS forever.”
Purrington has also co-founded Axon Potential, a student-run organization that raises awareness about all neurodegenerative diseases.
She said the group arose from her collaboration with the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, which has been working on an MS philanthropy project.
Although they were previously focused on raising awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease, they decided to work on MS because one member’s mother was diagnosed with the disease.
Axon Potential is still in the works but will get going in the fall, said Clayton Richards, the group’s co-founder.
“Especially now with the bad reputation Greek life is getting, it’s good to highlight the good things we’re doing,” Richards said. “(The group is also open) for non-Greeks who are totally against the Greek system to come work on this.”
So far, Axon Potential has produced an awareness video that will be available soon on social media websites. They also plan to talk to local radio stations and public TV stations about the video, Richards said.
“It’s been great to see how everything has come together. It’s been really cool to see the people on campus coming forward to help with this and especially within our fraternity to help our brother and his family,” Richards said.
Purrington’s father, a former producer and editor for KNME, has been working on editing the awareness video. He is enjoying the chance to work with video footage again, Purrington said.
“Wherever I go I’m always going to try to spread awareness and I’m going to give to the MS Society my whole life,” Purrington said. “It’s something that has impacted me and I want to try to reach a cure as fast as possible because I want (the disease) to impact as few people as possible.”
Marielle Dent is a staff reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Marielle_Dent.
MS Walk: Albuquerque 2015
- When: Saturday, April 11
- Check-in begins at 8 a.m.
- Official start time: 9 a.m.
- Where: Hoffmantown Church Park (8888 Harper Dr. NE, 87111)
- Visit walkMS.org to register to walk, volunteer or make a donation.