Don’t walk away: Bainbridge MS event slated for April 4

At Island Fitness, buy a foot for $1 for the MS Walk.   - Courtesy Photo
At Island Fitness, buy a foot for $1 for the MS Walk.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

One message that the annual Bainbridge MS Walk hammers home is that multiple sclerosis and fitness aren’t mutually exclusive.

Absolutely the opposite, in fact, which is partly why Island Fitness makes itself a large presence each year.

“There are so many people walking, and they’re walking with MS,” club owner Alexa Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal is touched daily as she works with clients and colleagues who have or know someone who is affected by MS – a neurological disease that can affect sensory and motor ability, balance and coordination, vision, and other neuromuscular function. Organizers of the third annual Bainbridge walk, which takes place April 4, estimate that more than 65 Bainbridge Islanders, of 9,000 Washingtonians, have the disease.

The island’s walk is being mirrored in locales around the country to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which supports research, training and education. The organization also provides direct support and financial assistance to those living with the disease, including medication, medical equipment, counseling and emergency assistance.

The Island Fitness team, roughly 20 strong this year, has participated in the event since its inception.

Right now they’re doing their best to make donations worth the while, Rosenthal said. One club manager organized a benefit salsa dance, raising $400. A front desk staffer wrote to skateboard superstar Tony Hawk, who sent an autographed skateboard. The silent auction bid on the item is close to $200.

And one small strategy with a potentially big payoff is to encourage every member to buy a paper foot for $1 to display in the club’s window.

“This year, with the economy, we’ve been trying to be really creative with our fundraising,” Rosenthal said.

As in past years, the walk will begin at Bainbridge High School, where the Island Fitness team will lead a group warm-up. The family-friendly walk will take place around Winslow, followed by entertainment, food, barbecue, and other goodies.

Those away on spring break that weekend can still help, either by sponsoring a walker or by registering as a virtual walker.

“The feeling is that it’s truly, really possible to find a cure for this, or to take measures to prevent it... not to be susceptible to MS,” Rosenthal said.

Making a move

The Bainbridge MS Walk will be April 4 at Bainbridge High School. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the walk at 9:30 a.m. Donations can be made, and walkers and teams can register at; by calling (800) 344-4867, option 2; or by sending email to

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