Stewart Foundation for MS and Lupus hosts Rubber Duck Race

By | June 3, 2019 6:45 am

Last Updated: June 3, 2019 at 6:58 am

Participants in the Rubber Duck Race wait for the event to start and appear to be sizing up their competitors. (Photo by RACHEL AUBERGER)

By Rachel Auberger

On June 1, the Stewart Foundation for MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and Lupus, led by Rachel Stewart, hosted its inaugural Rubber Duck Race, at South Carter Street Park.

According to Stewart, participants purchased a number for $15. They then rooted for the duck wearing that number as it raced down the Calfkiller River toward the walking bridge, at South Carter Street Park.

“We had a great response to this event,” Stewart said. “So rather than one big race, we decided to run the ducks in heats, with the first three finishers of each heat moving on to the final race.”

Each participant received a ticket so they could relax in the park’s pavilion and enjoy a picnic meal while waiting for their duck to arrive. Additionally, there was face painting as well as a duck-decorating station so kids could keep busy.

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All proceeds from the event went directly to the Stewart Foundation for MS and Lupus, which Stewart started six years ago in the honor of her mother who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

“No one should have to choose between purchasing their much-needed medicine or paying their rent and utilities,” Stewart said. “The cost of managing these terrible diseases is astronomical.”

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, especially the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Multiple sclerosis can cause many different symptoms, including vision loss, pain, fatigue, and impaired coordination. According to Stewart, balance issues can arise causing those with MS to need a wheelchair for mobility.

“Through our foundation, we can help an individual get a wheelchair or build a ramp for that wheelchair,” Stewart said.

Two years ago, Stewart was diagnosed with lupus. Like MS, lupus is an autoimmune disease, but, in this case, the disease occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs, at times causing severe fatigue, pain, and fevers. While there’s no cure for lupus, treatments focus on improving quality of life through controlling symptoms and minimizing flare-ups, which, according to Stewart, means medications and sometimes therapies.

Stewart said the foundation’s purpose is not only to raise money to help offset costs for those in need but to also to bring awareness to these diseases and educate the public about the signs and symptoms as well as how to manage the disease to be able to maintain the best-quality life as possible.

“We just had pamphlets printed,” she said. “We will be placing them at all the doctor’s offices.”

The Rubber Duck Race is only one of several fundraisers the foundation has hosted over the past several years. According to Stewart, they have hosted 5K races and golf tournaments in past years to help raise funds they can use to assist those affected by these diseases.

“We may have those events again, but you can definitely count on this duck race being an annual event,” Stewart said. “Go ahead and mark your calendars for the first Saturday in June.”

Stewart thanked everyone who supported the fundraiser and congratulated the winners of the inaugural Rubber Duck Race: Sherry Stewart (first place), Clayta Richards (second place), and Catina Steward (third place).

She also encouraged anyone suffering from either MS or lupus who is looking for information, help with costs, or simply emotional support to call her at (931) 273-2111.

“There is an application and screening process for those looking for help with supplies or costs,” Stewart said. “But we are here to help everyone in any way we can.”

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