Student battles unstable disease

Join ‘Team Ashley’ and battle Multiple Sclerosis one step at a time

Imagine sitting in a doctor’s office, your vision has been fading for the last few days and all you can make out is vague shapes. You go to an eye doctor, they then send you to an ophthalmologist. You even question what that is, but then you get sent to another doctor.

Not really understanding what is happening to your body, you undergo a series of tests, from having your blood drawn and having to take an MRI. After extensive testing the doctor attempts to show you an MRI, then informs you that you have a relatively unknown disease called Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

This was junior Ashley Michol’s experience only four years ago.

“I woke up one day and I could barely see,” Michol said. “I went to basketball, then softball, and it just got worse as the days went on. Then I went to a few doctors before I was diagnosed with MS.”

MS is a disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack the central nervous system. It directly attacks the myelin that coats the nerves in control of the central nervous system.

The cause of MS is still unknown; scientists believe the disease is triggered by as-yet-unidentified environmental factor(s) in a person who is genetically predisposed to respond.

“Oh my God, I’m not going to be able to play sports anymore,” Michol said. “That was my first thought when I found out I had MS.”

Michol is currently a member of both the swim and softball teams, and there are times during practices where she encounters “episodes” as a result of her disease. Any time she gets overly hot, her arms and legs start to tingle, followed by sharp pains. Then they get numb and eventually give out on her.

“Playing the last few years has had its up and downs,” Michol said. “I just keep pushing through the pain; I love sports and what kind of player would I be if I just quit?”

Michol, until recently, kept her ailment to herself and close friends and family.

“After I was diagnosed in eighth grade, I lost a lot of my friends because I didn’t know how to explain my disease,” Michol said. “That kept me from telling people here at Utica, because I didn’t want to get made fun of again.”

Everything changed during spring break, however. Michol had a relapse with her disease and once again lost sight, while her arms and legs were not strong enough to support her. She was bedridden throughout the entire break until the relapse ended its cycle.

“The relapse sucked, but I knew what it was so I just dealt with it,” Michol said. “I rested and finally convinced my dad to get me Netflix.”

The events that took place during spring break convinced Michol that she should do more to raise awareness about MS. so she created her own team and registered for the MS walk at Comerica Park.

“I think people should come out to support us; it’s a good cause and right now my team [Team Ashley[ has the most people registered,” Michol said, “The walk is free, but donations are always welcome.”

Michol was previously selling shirts for her MS walk at $10 a piece, although sales are finished for the shirts, Michol managed to sell over 180 shirts.

“The guy making the shirts gave us a great deal so we could give more for the National MS Society,” Michol said. “Through the shirts and other various donations we’ve amassed over $2,000 for the cause.”

The walk takes any and all monetary donations; anything helps out. Donations adding up to $35 in total could help deliver self-help groups to support people affected by MS in our community. For every $1,000 raised, the charity could provide two consultations with an MS Navigator for nearly 30 people living with MS.

What all of this means is anything can help out for this community. The goal for money raised is currently just over half way to their goal of $221,000. That type of money can go a long way for treatments, medication, and additional help.

More than 300,000 people participate in Walk MS annually. The first Walk took place in Minneapolis, MN in 1988 and raised $216,000. Today Walk MS raises over $50 million.

With all of the volunteers and donations, the National MS Society has been a very beneficial program in both raising awareness and funds for treatments.

Every walker matters, and Team Ashley can always use more volunteers. Anyone is welcome to register online and join her there at Comerica Park. The events begin at 9 in the morning on Sunday, May 3.

A sample of how fundraising dollars are utilized, visit