Support System

The Chautauqua Regional MS Society has kicked off National MS Awareness Week.

On Monday, the local MS Society held a kick-off party at the Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney Renaissance Center, 119 W. Third St., Jamestown, to raise awareness with vendors discussing various concerns people may have regarding health care options, wellness and many other topics. Also, representatives from the Buffalo office of the National MS Society were there to register walkers and volunteers for the 2014 Southern Chautauqua Walk MS event to be held Sunday, May 4, at Allen Park.

Mary Gabalski, Chautauqua Regional MS Society president, said Monday’s event was held to let people know there is a local MS group helping to inform residents about the inflammatory disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged.

”We want to build awareness in the community,” she said. ”We want to make contacts with people. We want to help.”

Gabalski said people can contact the Chautauqua Regional Multiple Sclerosis Society by calling 720-1737 or by visiting its Facebook page by going to She said the kick-off event was held for the second year. However, she said this year there are activities planned for the entire week. On Monday, Jeffery Barkstrom of Barkstrom Natural Health and Acupuncture provided nutritional information to those in attendance. The Secret Garden Flower Shop, 79 Allen St., Jamestown, will participate in National MS Awareness Week by offering $10 orange bouquets with proceeds to benefit the Chautauqua Region MS Society. The bouquets will be on sale Monday through Saturday and can be ordered by calling 720-1737. Area restaurants, such as Bob Evans, Friendly’s and Ruby Tuesday also will be participating in events throughout the week. Friday will feature Magic for MS at the Jamestown Train Station, 211-217 W. Second St., Jamestown, at 7 p.m. In addition to a magic show with audience participation by magician Phillip Pratt, the event will include drawings and door prizes. Tickets are available pre-sale for $8 for adults and $4 for children under 12 by calling 720-1737. Tickets will also be available at the door for $10 for adults and $5 for children.

”More and more people are being diagnosed with MS,” Gabalski said. ”We’re trying to do things here at the local level to help.”

According to the National MS Society,, multiple sclerosis is an immune-mediated process in which abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system. The immune system attacks the myelin, which is fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers, as well as the nerve fibers themselves. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue, resulting in a wide variety of symptoms ranging from fatigue, depression and pain, to difficulty walking, hearing loss, seizures and more. There is currently no cure for multiple sclerosis, but treatment is available.