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Helping Find a Cure
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“I want to find a cure for MS,” said Christina Van Dam, a senior at Upland High in Upland California. Her goal was to raise $17,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. “They need the money for research,” she said.

Christina became interested in multiple sclerosis a couple of years earlier. “It began one day in Spanish class,” she said. “Our teacher told us about all of the bad things MS did to his wife. I decided to fight against that debilitating disease.”

Christina found out about the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (www.nmss.org) and joined a local chapter. Through MS walks held all over the nation each spring, the organization raised more than $38 million for research and local programs. Determined to do her part, Chris became a member of Upland High School’s MS team. Because of her hard work and enthusiasm, she was elected captain her sophomore year.

“One hundred and twenty-five of us went on that first walk and raised almost $5,000 for MS. The following year, 225 marched again and collected $11,250.”

Her senior year Chris worked really hard organizing the march for MS and set out to raise $17,000. “With the economy down, that’s an unrealistic goal,” said one of her advisors. “Then we’ll just do the best we can,” Chris replied.

At 7:00 a.m. on March 30, 2003, Chris met with her team in the library. By 8:00 a.m. a lot of people gathered at the gazebo in downtown Upland. Loud music poured from the PA system while vendors sold hot doughnuts and other delicious foods. Multiple sclerosis volunteers passed out water bottles and T-shirts to marchers.

Meanwhile, Chris ran around making sure everything was ready. Various service clubs, students, and church groups lined up, each wearing their distinctive colors. Then a whistle blew, and they were off. “There were 286 of us,” Chris said. “We walked three and a half miles to raise funds to fight multiple sclerosis.”

Money Raised

All the marchers had sponsors, some paying by the mile and others donating a flat sum. When the money had all been collected, the MS walk raised $13,300.

Was Chris disappointed that her $17,000 goal wasn’t met? Not so you’d notice. “We did all right,” she said, smiling. “In three years our MS team raised $28,854.74. Being team captain was the highlight of my high school life.”

While attending Upland High School, Chris did a lot of other things besides fundraising. “I’m always involved in my church,” she said.

Chris participates in teen leadership, sings in the youth choir, and goes on mission trips to Mexico and other places. “Over spring break last year we built a church in Arizona. This year we went back there to pave the parking lot and paint the building.” She also taught Vacation Bible School.

Even with her busy schedule, Chris found time for sports. Although she competed on the varsity track and field team, the sport she’s been involved with most is soccer. “I started playing that when I was 5 years old,” she said. “From soccer I learned how every person is needed for the team to function well.”

Chris Van Dam is now a student at California Polytechnic University in Pomona, California. And guess what? She’s still on a MS team raising funds to find a cure for that disease.

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By Jimmy Lumpkin. Reprinted with permission from Insight Magazine, July 29, 2006. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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