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WHEREAS, multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that damages the myelin sheath that surrounds and protects nerve cells; and
WHEREAS, this damage slows down or blocks messages between the brain and body, leading to symptoms of MS, including visual disturbances, muscle weakness, trouble with coordination and balance, thinking and memory problems, and sensations such as numbness, prickling, or “pins and needles;” and
WHEREAS, experts estimate that there are currently 400,000 people in the United States diagnosed with MS, and twice as many women than men are affected by MS; and
WHEREAS, MS can be mild, or can cause individuals to lose their ability to write, speak, or walk; and
WHEREAS, most individuals experience their first symptoms of MS between the ages of 20 and 40; and
WHEREAS, the exact cause of MS is unknown and there is no cure, but there are treatments for initial attacks, medications and therapies to improve symptoms, and recently developed drugs to slow the worsening of the disease; and
WHEREAS, the MS Alliance of Virginia (MSAV) provides programs and services for anyone in Virginia whose life has been affected by MS; and
WHEREAS, through education, assistance to support groups, special programs and events, and the dissemination of information, the MSAV provides a better informed general population and the means to improve the quality of life for those in Virginia with MS; and
WHEREAS, the MSAV is a 100% volunteer organization formed to fill needs of support groups and provide educational programs, activities, and events, and help others start upbeat groups in their communities; and
WHEREAS, raising public awareness of MS will lead to increased support and services for families in the Commonwealth of Virginia that are impacted by this disease;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize March 2019 as MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS) EDUCATION AND AWARENESS MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.