Richmond takes on the MS Push-Up Challenge

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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - What started as an idea to internalize the pain of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) which afflicts over 1 million people every day, has evolved into a movement which has spread across social media.

Thursday the challenge’s creator Robert Roberts was joined by Mayor Levar Stoney, Fire Lieutenant Chris Armstrong, Police Chief Will Smith, representatives from the National MS Society and dozens of Richmonders to take part in a citywide MS push Challenge event.

“It’s extremely humbling to watch an entire city gather around a very important cause that is actually affecting the nation,” Roberts said.

The event was held inside the gym of the Fire Academy on Beulah Road Sandston, Virginia. During the event, the group did four reps of the muscle-to-bone push up at Roberts’s direction.

Roberts created the challenge after his wife Dannielle, who was diagnosed with MS in 2008, described the pain and fatigue she experienced daily from disease as if doing 100 push-ups.

Within a few weeks of the challenge’s inception, people from all over the state, the nation even internationally have been posting pictures and videos of themselves doing the MS push-up Challenge to raise awareness for the degenerative disease.

Roberts adds that the challenge is even going viral in Germany. A fitness based group based in the European country called Gainstro has been spreading the challenge among their followers and sent Roberts a video of the growing popularity of the muscle-to-bone push-up.

During the event, Roberts reminded everyone doing the challenge to pay close attention to the pain and stress they were feeling -- linking that experience to what someone with MS goes through daily.

“Imagine now living with that pain every single day, trying to do simple things like drink water," said Roberts. “It’s really important for us to have a better understanding of what 1 million Americans are experiencing every day when they wake up and this is just one of the symptoms.”

According to the National MS Society, the most common symptoms of MS include fatigue, numbness and tingling, blurred vision, double vision, weakness, poor coordination, imbalance, pain, depression, and problems with memory and concentration. Less commonly MS may cause tremor, paralysis, and blindness.

At least two individuals at the event could relate to the real struggles of living with MS.

Danica King attended the event with her friend Jeanette Ashlock who have both been living with the disease for several years.

“I was diagnosed on Aug. 19, 2010, so I’m coming up on 10 years,” said King.

“I was diagnosed on Oct. 4, 2001, and I’m coming up on 19 years,” said Ashlock.

King and Ashlock connected through an MS support group and attend events together.

While King says she doesn’t experience the pain from MS, the disease has left her with cognitive issues and mobility issues that require her to walk with the use of a rollator walker device.

“Specifically for me, you can see something going on with me, but before I had these extra assistant devices you would’t notice my MS as much,” said King.

Ashlock added that the symptoms of MS can vary widely from person to person and that you can’t always tell when someone is suffering. She says she used to experience pain from MS, but in recent years she has become symptom-free.

“I know what the pain feels like I’ve had that pain before,” said Ashlock. "It’s just awesome that they would support MS and support us.”

While Roberts was happy with Thursday’s turnout he says his dream won’t be fully realized until the challenge goes viral so that more people will become aware of the disease and want to support its research for a cure.

Roberts called on those in attendance to challenge someone they know to take on the challenge.

“I got some friends in Henrico County particularly supervisor Tyrone Nelson. I know he works out he trains and I’d like to see him try it,” said Mayor Stoney.

“I think there’s a great opportunity for Henrico police and for Chesterfield police and if they do it, I’ll come out and do it again,” said Chief Smith.

“We’re challenging Atlanta, we’re challenging New York, we’re challenging Los Angeles to help raise awareness of the seriousness of multiple sclerosis,” said Roberts.

If you want to be a part of this viral challenge all you have to do is post a picture or video of yourself doing the muscle to bone push up on social media using the hashtag #Pushup4MS.

If you would like to support research for MS, you can do so by clicking HERE.

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