FAIRBORN, Ohio (FAIRBORN DAILY HERALD) - Though he retired in November, former councilman Frank Cervone continues to make public appearances to help raise awareness of the disease that has changed his life.
Last week, Mayor Tom Nagel and the rest of council presented Cervone with a proclamation declaring March as Multiple System Atrophy in the City of Fairborn. He discussed the symptoms of MSA, which he was diagnosed with in April 2010 after first experiencing symptoms in Oct. 2008.
"Multiple Systems Atrophy is a neurological disorder that shoots false signals through the body and shuts parts of your body down, parts of your body you don't even think about like your heart, your lungs, your kidneys and your liver," said Cervone.
MSA is associated with the degeneration of nerve cells in specific areas of the brain which causes problems with movement, balance and other autonomic functions of the body. The cause of MSA is unknown and no specific risk factors have been identified. Around 55 percent of cases occur in middle-aged men.
Cervone explained that there are only about 50,000 Americans diagnosed with this disease and about 100,000 more that are misdiagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus or low blood pressure.
"My goal, and the goal of the Barefoot Runners, is we want to make more people aware of this horrible, terrible disease and we're looking to raise funds for research," Cervone said. "It'll be too late for me, but I want to help future people with this disease, and that's why we're doing this, for those who live Multiple Systems Atrophy."
Trissa King and Brian Chriswell of the Dayton Barefoot Runners, a group that was newly formed in 2011, met Cervone at a race in which they participated in August. Cervone was the guest speaker at the event and inspired them to get involved.
"It was through our meeting with him and talking with him that we decided that we wanted to be more proactive in helping Frank raise awareness and also funding for this disease," said King. "We are working with Ray of Key Sports to have a five-mile walk-run, barefoot or not, race here in your city of Fairborn."
The race, which is sponsored by the Dayton Barefoot Runners group, will take place at 11:15 a.m. Saturday, March 31 at TJ Chumps, 1100 East Dayton-Yellow Springs Road. Check-in will begin at 10 a.m. They are hoping to get about 100-200 people to participate.
"I don't believe anything happens by accident and we were really put in the path of Frank during a race that was really a fluke for us to run, it was a very last minute decision," said Chriswell. "What we do is sort of a growing trend, not a lot of people do it, as in sort of the same way as MSA, not a lot of people are aware of it. We want to do what we can to give back and Frank's such an inspiration. We're very honored to help out in any way we can and we're really excited about the race."
Online registration is now available. Registration closes at 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 28. The cost is $20 and includes a t-shirt and refreshments if paid before March 21. The cost will be $25 after this date and on race day, with no shirt guarantee. They are also still looking for business sponsors at $200 and donors for the event.
This event runs on city streets and paths. Participants can run "barefoot" or shod and there will be awards in both categories. Medical support provided by Kettering Sports Medicine Center. For more information or to register visit www.keysports.net.
For more information about MSA visit www.msaawareness.org or following Frank Cervone's personal journey through his blog at www.hollywoodrepublican.net.
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