CARLSBAD — Thousands of walkers got a rare behind-the-scenes look at Legoland California during the annual MS Walk 2009 on April 25.
Teams of participants walked, strolled and rolled through the park before it opened to the public for the day to raise money for the National MS Society.
Many of those who participated had first-hand experience of the disabling neurological disease, while others walked to show their support or to honor friends or loved ones who have battled multiple sclerosis.
Dozens of others came out to show their support by volunteering their time.
All participants had the satisfaction of knowing they had helped support the efforts in finding the cause and cure for multiple sclerosis, organizers said.
“Walk MS isn’t just an effective fundraising tool in the movement toward a world free of multiple sclerosis, it’s a day to celebrate the power of a community coming together,” said Rich Israel, president of the Pacific South Coast Chapter for the National MS Society.
Being pushed in a wheelchair, with a large group of walkers wearing blue shirts, Arlene Kaye of Team “K,” said she helped organize the group that consisted of many of her colleagues from the Southern California Center of Optometry, where she works. Two others in the group also had MS.
Many of those who were there to support friends said they also found the walk fun.
Festive music and lots of treats, donated by Souplantation, Papa Johns and Langer’s Juice Company, greeted the walkers as they completed the 1.5-mile route.
Wearing tiaras and sashes, California Princess Lindsey Palsen recruited fellow Princesses Ashley Glover, Jasmine January and Ashley Soto to walk on behalf of friends Helen, Shay and Troy McGuggie.
“It is really a great opportunity,” Glover said as to why she got involved. “And it really is a lot of fun.”
According to Beth Clark, director of marketing and communications for the local chapter, the walk drew 3,301 people and raised $408,092 this year. And although less than last year’s walk, which raised $581,064 and drew 3,518, the turnout was great considering the times, she said.
“A lot of people just wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” Clark said. “Especially during these economic times.”