Walk-A-Thon makes great strides in disease awareness

By NIKKI SMITH,

Every year, Tonya McCullum stands to cut the ribbon signaling the start of the annual 6.5K Walk-A-Thon hosted by the Making Strides Foundation.

Standing is a part of daily life for most, and something that is overlooked as it is so commonplace. Since McCullum was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2002, her standing to cut the ribbon is a source of pride and admiration for her family and fellow members of Piney Grove Baptist Church.

She will cut the ribbon yet again at the foundation’s Sixth Annual Walk-A-Thon on Aug. 12 beginning at 8 a.m. at Piney Grove Baptist Church at 153 Sheeplo Loop in Petal.

The inaugural Walk-A-Thon was held in 2012 with all proceeds going to McCullum to help make her day-to-day life a little easier.

“It started with the ladies of the church wanting to do something to help her on her birthday, so they had a walk and gave the proceeds to her as a birthday gift,” her son Michael said.

However, Michael said McCullum is not one to be selfish or keep the spotlight on herself, so her mission became to help others.

And so the Making Strides Foundation was born in 2013. Making Strides is a non-profit organization that focuses on assisting people in Mississippi who have been diagnosed with debilitating illnesses such as MS.

The foundation also aims to bring awareness to the physical challenges faced by these individuals on a daily basis. The goal of the foundation is to educate the community about these issues in order to increase involvement and promote interest in disease prevention.

The Walk-A-Thon has become an annual event, which has garnered success in uniting people who desire to help those in need and lending a helping hand to those in the community who need it most.

This year, the event will be held on McCullum’s birthday. The proceeds from the sixth annual event will go to two $500 scholarships for a student at Petal High School and a student at Jones County Junior College.

“It’s an amazing thing to watch something go from a celebration of my mother’s birthday to impacting other people’s lives,” Michael said.

Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. and kick off at 8 a.m. A free health fair will follow.

For more information, call 601-583-4045. Donations to the Making Strides Foundation can be made by visiting the website at makingstridesfoundation.com. Donations go toward making the annual event possible and funding scholarships for area students.

The foundation’s goal for this year’s event is $5,000.