FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Despite donations being down compared to pre-pandemic levels, the Northern Regional chapter of the MS Society of Canada is proud of the progress made during Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month.

The society raised around $2,500 through a silent auction and a drive-in movie event last month. The organization’s flag was also flown in front of City Hall, and the Centennial Park stage was lit up in red to commemorate the month.

“The point of May as MS Awareness Month is to raise awareness and let people know that there are people here talking about it, and we’re here to help,” says Fort St. John-based volunteer Sherri Mytopher.

Starting in 2017, Mytopher says she would host and organize a walk that brought in around $80,000 within its first three years, and around 100 people participated each year. Over the past month, Mytopher was responsible for organizing the drive-in movie night, the silent auction, and reaching out to the city about proclaiming the month of awareness.

Unfortunately, the drive-in night on Saturday was rather quiet, with only a few families participating, but Mytopher is still smiling.

“The feedback from the people that were there — they were really happy the MS Society was hosting something like that. That meant a lot to me personally that an event that I have never organized from a cause near and dear to me was appreciated.”

“It’s a really amazing feeling for people to say this is awesome, this is important, and I’m glad that she organized it.”

Donations were down over the past two years due to the pandemic, but Mytopher said it’s not about the money — it’s about raising awareness.

“It’s hard work as a volunteer organizing everything, but it’s a passion of mine, now being diagnosed. Having MS is something that I’ve delved into.”

Mytopher was diagnosed with MS in 2013 and had to step down from her full-time job due to the debilitating disease.

“I had to figure out something to fill my time. And then I started communicating with the MS Society, and they had a posting out to be a representative in the north, and I was like, well, that’s me.”

The MS Walks were brought to Fort St. John because of Mytopher’s work with the MS Society. Prior to 2017, the closest walk was in Grande Prairie.

“The community and sponsor support is amazing in this in this town. Starting with the walk, I realized we could do the proclamations, the flag raising and other little events on auctions and whatnot.”

Anyone looking to learn how to support MS Services and research can follow the Peace Region MS Events. There is also a Fort St. John support group on Facebook, and Mytopher encourages anyone with questions relating to MS to call or text her at 250-263-8058.

The next event to support the MS Society takes place in August with Burgers to Beat MS.