LAUREL – The 5th Annual Hockey Fights MS Tournament took place at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel from June 3-5. The event, which has grown the last few years, has really helped the cause in the hopes of finding a cure for Multiple sclerosis (MS), the rare and debilitating disease. Angie Balch, who was […]
LAUREL – The 5th Annual Hockey Fights MS Tournament took place at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel from June 3-5.
The event, which has grown the last few years, has really helped the cause in the hopes of finding a cure for Multiple sclerosis (MS), the rare and debilitating disease.
Angie Balch, who was the acting program director, talked about the program and its cause.
“The tournament is a co-ed ice hockey tournament and we play here (The Gardens Ice House) and at the rink in Columbia,” Balch said. “It’s to benefit MS research, and we donate the proceeds to the Johns Hopkins University program.
“We’ve been doing it for a few years here in Maryland and it has been very successful. We’ve had a lot of fun this weekend.”
Johns Hopkins has joined forces in aiding research with Hockey Fights MS. All of the proceeds and donations from the event go toward MS research at the institution.
Fewer than 200,000 MS cases are diagnosed every year and little is known about any possible cures. It is a long-lasting disease that affects the brain, spinal cord and the optic nerves controlling vision. It can also cause problems with balance, muscle control and many other basic body functions. The effects of MS are different for everyone who suffers from it. Some people have mild symptoms and don’t need treatment. Others have debilitating issues with getting around and performing daily tasks.
Symptoms occur when the immune system attacks the Myelin, a fatty material that wraps around the nerve fibers to protect them. Without this outer shell, the nerves become damaged and scar tissue forms. The damage to these nerves doesn’t allow the brain to send the proper signals through the body. The nerves also don’t work properly when a person moves and feels.
“We get people from all over who come to play in our tournament. Teams from Pittsburgh, Virginia and New Hampshire,” Balch said. “They really are here to support those with MS. Everyone is helping out in their local communities in hopes of one day finding a cure.”
Balch also said this disease hits very close to home to a lot of the participants involved in the program, including herself.
“Some of the players have MS and some of their family members have MS. My sister, who started the program here (in Maryland), has MS and she was a hockey player,” she said. “She played all the way through college and was diagnosed at 25.
“Since then, she’s decided to hold this tournament every year and it has grown significantly since last year. There are almost twice as many teams and a lot of donations. We’re really grateful to give back to Johns Hopkins and support what they do.”
Hockey Fights MS continues to grow as a program with the proceeds going to local programs for research. The program will move on to Burlington, Vt. from July 15 through 17, and then to Bethlehem, Pa. from Aug. 5 through 7 and 11 through 14.
For more information, please go to the Hockey Fights MS website at http://www.hockeyfightsms.org/ and help fight MS one goal at a time.