A blue and white town went ever so briefly orange late Sunday morning.
The sudden shift in color was in large part thanks to the crowd of volunteers and philanthropic pedestrians who gathered at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for Walk MS: State College — or possibly free cupcakes.
Sponsored by the National MS Society, the annual foot tour of University Park unites people with orange T-shirts for the dual purpose of raising awareness and subsidizing the fight against multiple sclerosis.
A little more than half of the $35,000 fundraising goal had been reached by Sunday, but the camaraderie was definitely out in full force.
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It’s kind of like a support system.
Teams took turns posing for photos against the back gate while volunteers prepped buckets of ice and bottled water. Once the feet started pounding pavement, the tables assembled underneath the pavilion with cookies, pulled pork and other good eats.
“It’s kind of like a support system,” Sharon O’Keiff-Fusco, a development manager with the National MS Society, said.
State College is the last of the seven walks that O’Keiff-Fusco has helped to coordinate this year in locations across the country.
“A community event brings out the awareness,” O’Keiff-Fusco said.
Kelly Stultz and Kristie Mulhollem formed their nine-person squad, Rage Against the MS, with that awareness acutely in mind.
“Her dad and my mom have MS, so we formed a team,” Stultz said.
When he was diagnosed, it hurt me and my wife more than him.
Both were surprised and gratified by the size of the crowd that turned out, many of whom were either blazing ahead or trailing behind them.
“I think it probably has more of an impact for people with MS to see that people are out there supporting them,” Stultz said.
Back at base camp, volunteer David Emel was awaiting the pack’s return.
Emel has been volunteering with Walk MS since his 23-year-old son was diagnosed with the disease four years ago.
“When he was diagnosed, it hurt me and my wife more than him,” Emel said.
He thinks that seeing the large entourage of family members, friends and even strangers that turned out to show their support will benefit his son’s morale.
“It’s really good for him,” Emel said.