Founder and President of the Knock Out MS Foundation, Christina Carville, is thriving despite her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis by dedicating herself to helping others afflicted in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a neurological disease that affects the central nervous system, causing the body’s immune system to attack myelin, a sheath that protects the nerves. While the cause is unknown, it is believed to be an autoimmune reaction that not only affects the body as a whole but can target the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. This attack on myelin causes extreme discomfort through a wide variety of symptoms, including vision problems, muscle weakness, pain, fatigue, and both cognitive and mobility issues.
Carville was diagnosed with MS in 2017 and has since fought hard to battle the disease and work towards a cure. She started off in the MS Society but found that support was lacking in Baton Rouge due to budget cuts and the consolidation of support events for both Baton Rouge and New Orleans. To improve the lives of MS sufferers in Baton Rouge, she knew she needed a platform for her voice and found it when she started the Knock Out MS Foundation. Her foundation was built to give victims a space to be heard, find fellowship, and renew hope of finding relief.
“I made a promise to my son when I was first diagnosed that I would always do what I could to not only fight the disease but to make a difference and work towards raising awareness and improving quality of life for others affected,” she shares.
This August, Carville held the inaugural Knock Out MS Gala but was wrecked with worry when another COVID outbreak affected the nation two weeks prior to the event. She feared the outbreak would affect the event’s turnout but was pleasantly surprised when over 250 people attended. Twenty-five sponsors helped the foundation meet their goal to provide low-profile cooling vests for people living with MS. These vests give them the opportunity to enjoy events like tailgating without having to worry about a bulky, attention-grabbing vest taking away from their experience.
On top of hosting more fundraisers, she has a more ambitious plan to collaborate with local grocery stores. She would like to either have a gift bag day where stores can donate daily proceeds towards the foundation or set up a donation option at the cash register. This would allow shoppers to easily donate towards the cause and help Carville buy much-needed weighted blankets. In colder weather, MS patients tend to suffer from muscle spasms, and the extra weight and warmth from the weighted blankets would help alleviate this symptom.
The lack of public awareness is due to MS being a “silent disease,” Without the use of a cane or wheelchair, most people would not realize a patient is sick and in pain. Other than donations, helping raise public awareness is one of the best ways to aid in the fight. Social media is one of the most powerful tools Carville and other sufferers have at their disposal when it comes to spreading the word.
“Go to our website to join the email list or follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on fundraisers,” she says. “Word of mouth can help others learn about this disease and the reach of it. Our caretakers, families, friends, coworkers and bosses are all affected by it.”
Ultimately, Carville would like to urge the public into action. She is challenging Baton Rouge to step up and help build this platform beyond fundraisers. Where most MS patients suffer in silence every minute of the day, having their community band together to give them their voice back and understand this disease would help make advancements towards a brighter, awareness-driven future.