INDIANAPOLIS — The Monumental Marathon is attracting people from all over the world, some with a very special purpose.
More than 50 members of “Run a Myelin My Shoes” are reuniting in Indianapolis for the marathon. The group is made up of of people with Multiple Sclerosis, their family and friends and others who want to raise awareness for the disease.
”I was diagnosed with MS in 2006,” said Cheryl Hile, the founer of “Run a Myelin My Shoes” or RAMMS.
What was initially a very depressing diagnosis, Hile said her husband pushed her to get back into running, something she had loved to do before her diagnosis.
MS is a disease of the central nervous system that can affect the body in many different ways, but being active is one of the best ways to fight it.
”Exercise helps us tremendously,” Hile said.
This set Hile on a record breaking journey. She became the first person with MS to run a marathon on all seven continents. Along the way she met countless other MS warriors like herself, which gave her an idea.
”I wanted to bring everyone together so I created a team called ‘Run a Myelin my Shoes,'” Hile said.
The name is a play on words. Myelin is the layer around nerve cells, that is attacked in MS. When myelin is damaged messages from nerve to nerve become harder to send or don’t send at all.
From a humble start in 2018 the group is now up to almost 400 people. Fifty of them are here in Indianapolis for the Monumental Marathon — the first time they’ve been together in more than two years.
”Just the tears and the joy of being together once again,” said Hile.
”To give her a hug is such a nice feeling,” Gary Pinder, another member of RAMMS said.
Pinder has been part of the group since the beginning, for him it’s all about one word.
”Still being able to run and show others this is possible, the word hope comes to mind for me,” he said.
Pinder was diagnosed in 1995, he said then there weren’t any happy stories to go along with this terrible disease. Now, he’s a part of one.
”We are part of that story of things going much better than they used to with MS,” Pinder said.
The hope they inspire is also about finding an answer to the disease.
”I still feel like there’s either a cure or more likely an effective treatment for MS so we can slow significantly or stop the progression and I think that’s something we can look forward to in my lifetime,” said Koreen Burrow, another member of the group here in Indy to run the Monumental Marathon.
The prupose of the group is to keep each other active but also to inspire one another.
”One of the symptoms or underlying effects of MS initially being diagnosed is you feel very isolated and you don’t want to share your symptoms because you don’t look like anything’s wrong and you don’t want people to make you feel like you’re just making it up,” Burrow said.
But, that’s where RAMMS comes in.
”It is so much more manageable when you have that great emotional support group,” Hile said.
And the group wants people to know one thing about MS.
”It’s not a death sentence,” said Ryan Weller, another RAMMS member.
As they all get ready to race, Hile knows the emotions will get to her.
”I’ll be crying, I just know it,” she said.
But why they’re running is never far from her mind.
”This is what it’s all about, bringing awareness of the disease and bringing people together and just giving people hope that they can do something,” Hile said.
The group encourages anyone who sees them running in their blue RAMMS shirts in the Monumental Marathon on Saturday to say hi!