Schenectady goes orange for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The city of Schenectady will glow orange this week as part of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.

MS Awareness Week 2015 is March 2 – 8. Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a life-altering disease. The body essentially eats away at itself. The protective coating that surrounds the body’s nerves are frayed and damaged and can lead to either cognitive or physical issues.

The disease affects over 12,000 New Yorkers, which is two to three times higher than the national average, according to the MS Society.

Randy Stein has lived with MS for seven years.

“I went to the doctor, and he said, ‘Oh, I think it’s carpal tunnel. Quite common,’” Stein recalled.

But it wasn’t carpal tunnel, and Stein was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008. He said his first sign was numbness in his hands.

“I can still stand and walk a little bit but not very much,” he said.

Some of Stein’s nerves have been attacked and damaged resulting in mobility issues, but that doesn’t stop him from getting around.

“Most of the time I’m in this mobility scooter,” he explained. “I can still drive the car. I don’t need any special hand control or anything like that.”

This week, the National MS Society is drawing attention to the unpredictable disease. Nearly 13,000 people in Upstate New York have been diagnosed with MS, and it affects everyone differently.

The city of Schenectady’s clock tower will be lit in orange this week to raise awareness about the disease, and Mayor Gary McCarthy issued a city wide proclamation declaring MS Awareness will last though the month of March.

“With MS, there is no known cause or cure,” Mayor Gary McCarthy said. “It’s important to raise awareness and drive the importance of research and investment in programs to help those with MS.”

Those resources became critical for Stein when he was first diagnosed.

“I’m a very proactive person,” he said. “First thing I did I got on the phone with the MS Society.”

There were fewer options 15-20 years ago than there are today. There are currently more medications to treat symptoms thanks to ongoing research, but more can be done and more money is still needed as researchers are looking for a long-term cure.

With an entire month dedicated to education people about MS, Stein wants everyone to know you may already know someone dealing with the disease.

“Not everyone is open about it, so you could know someone living with MS,” he said. “Your neighbor, your coworkers; you may not even know it.”

To learn more about MS symptoms, research and treatment, head to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society website.

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