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50-mile walk will test stamina for Waterport woman with MS

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2016 at 1:55 am

‘It will be one of the most physically and emotionally challenging things I’ve ever done.’ – Wendy Cannon

T.J. and Wendy Cannon

Photo by Tom Rivers: T.J. and Wendy Cannon have been training and raising money for a 50-mile walk Sept. 9-11 in a benefit for people battling Multiple Sclerosis. Mrs. Cannon was diagnosed with the condition almost 17 years ago.

WATERPORT – A decade ago Wendy Cannon was so debilitated by multiple sclerosis she was wheelchair bound. That lasted about a month.

Treatment and medication, as well as her determined spirit, got her back on her feet.

Cannon is thankful she has been able to continue working as an occupational therapist. She is grateful she made it to her son’s recent graduation from high school.

She wants to help others with MS, and improve her odds in battling a disease where the cause is unknown. That’s whey she and her husband T.J. are planning to walk 50 miles on Sept. 9-11 in Cape Cod in a MS Challenge Walk.

They have been raising money and training for the long walk. They are about halfway towards the $3,000 goal.

“I’m excited about it,” Cannon said at her home this evening on Knight’s Lane off Oak Orchard River Road. “It will be one of the most physically and emotionally challenging things I’ve ever done.”

Cannon, 45, was stricken with MS when she was 28. It was a cold winter day and she had been playing with her son, then 3. Her lips, the left side of her scalp and her left arm felt numb. She thought she might have frostbite. Doctors diagnosed her with a disease that afflicts women far more than men.

The Challenge Walk will raise money for research and treatment, and to assist people fighting the disease.

“Who knows, the $3,000 we raise might find the cure for MS,” said Mr. Cannon.

He works as a technician for Respiratory Services of WNY. He has been training with his wife, going on long walks, including 7 miles on Sunday.

The couple has had a wine tasting, kayak race and tupperware party to raise money for the challenge. They have been collecting pop cans and water bottles as well. Some of their friends and neighbors leave bags of bottles for them, which adds up towards the $3,000 goal. They also have an online giving option. (Click here for more information.)

She expects the MS Challenge Walk will be a highlight as she and her husband walk 20 miles on Sept. 9, followed by another 20 miles and 10 miles the final day.

“It’s much more for the camaraderie and being with other people and sharing stories,” she said.

She works for HCR Homecare and provides occupational therapy to many people fighting MS. Cannon said the disease can leave many people bed-ridden. She still has some bad days, where it is hard to move and keep her balance. But she keeps moving.

She gets up at 4:30 and goes to Fast Fitness in Medina to work out for at least an hour. She wants to run again. She ran the Albion Strawberry Festival 5K in 2013 when she felt like she was in her peak shape. For now, she is focused on the 50 miles over 3 days.

Cannon has a sister in Connecticut who will be at the MS Challenge. Some of her friends in Waterport also plan on going to root on the Cannons. Western New York doesn’t have a Challenge Walk. That’s why the Cannons are going to Cape Cod.

Mrs. Cannon said there is a candlelight service as part of the Challenge. She has watched the video and it brings her to tears. Mrs. Cannon has been in clinical trials with treatment. She hopes to slow the disease’s progression. She said she is focused on quality of life, not quantity of days.

“I don’t have a bucket list,” she said. “I try to live each day to the fullest.”