WALK FOR A CAUSE - This year’s Scleroderma Walk in Sylvan Lake attracted a much larger crowd than last year’s event. A total of 118 people embarked on the walk, starting Centennial Park, in an effort to raise awareness of the autoimmune disease.PHOTO BY SAM MACDONALD/SYLVAN LAKE

WALK FOR A CAUSE - This year’s Scleroderma Walk in Sylvan Lake attracted a much larger crowd than last year’s event. A total of 118 people embarked on the walk, starting Centennial Park, in an effort to raise awareness of the autoimmune disease. PHOTO BY SAM MACDONALD/SYLVAN LAKE

Participation in second Scleroderma Walk in Sylvan Lake grows

This year’s walk saw a higher turnout and a tremendous amount of donations and support.

It was easy to spot participants participating in Sunday’s Scleroderma Walk – they formed a blue wave that moved through Centennial Park, rather than the lake the park sits beside.

A multitude of blue-clad walkers bent on raising awareness and funds to research scleroderma gathered at Centennial Park, and partook in the second annual iteration of the Scleroderma walk – one that brought them along the lake, and across the waterfront.

This year’s walk ended up raising just short of $30,000 in pledges, something an elated Susan Dyck, organizing committee chair, described as “overwhelming.”

“This is one of 14 walks that are scheduled to happen in Canada. They are taking place from Halifax to Vancouver,” said Dyck. “Last year we had 88 walkers, and this year we had about 60 register online, and then about 40 registering [Sunday], so that growth is an exciting thing to see.”

After the walk, Dyck confirmed that there were 118 walkers in total – proving the past year has been a significant interval of growth in awareness and support for the event.

Dyck remarked how amazing it was to see word getting out further and faster than ever before – and how the increase in participation in walks is proof of that.

Another thing that made Sunday’s walk significant for Dyck was the many people participating in this year’s walk were present at last year’s event as well. She explained that many who have been steadily participating have been affected, either directly or in their family, by scleroderma.

“Everyone at the walk is personally connected to it,” said Dyck. “There are 16,000 scleroderma patients in Canada.

Dyck added she, herself suffers from scleroderma, and sees any support walk events receive with a great deal of gratitude. She expressed how excited she was that 10 members of her own family were among those who participated in the walk.

“It’s actually one of the least known rare diseases, and we’re trying to change that,” said Dyck, who discovered she had scleroderma after getting tested, knowing that her twin sister in Steinbach, Man. was diagnosed with it.

samuel.macdonald@sylvanlakenews.com