Riverdale resident with MS runs relay across America

Running 28 miles a day for five days straight would be feat for most people, let alone someone with an autoimmune disease.

On July 13, a Bronx woman will be running 141 miles over the course of five days to raise $10,000 to spread awareness for multiple sclerosis.

Wilmien Blake, 41, of Riverdale, has always been an avid runner, but her whole life changed when she was diagnosed with MS in 2013.

“I remember I started feeling this tingling and numbness on my right side of my body,” Blake said. “It felt like someone drew a line right down the middle of me.”

Blake’s initial concerns were about the disease’s progression and how it would affect her life in the years to come.

After she started taking medication and treatment for MS, she said she wanted to block out the side effects because she didn’t want her diagnosis to be the center of her life.

“I decided if MS was going to be a passenger in my life then I’m going to give it one hell of a ride,” Blake said.

MS is an autoimmune disease, which affects the immune system so patients often get sick a lot, Blake explained.

However, Blake noted her new infusion treatment minimizes those effects.

“I realized how fortunate I was with my doctor, the medication and the treatment,” Blake said. “I felt the obligation to help those who aren’t as fortunate as I am, I wanted to show people that MS doesn’t need to be this big, scary thing.”

As an avid runner, Blake has ran marathons and other long distance races, but said she learned of the MS Runs the US at another event to raise money for MS.

“Last year, I was at this event, ‘MS Climbs to the Top’ and at that event, I learned about the relay race,” Blake said.

MS Runs the US is an ultra relay race consisting of 19 runners starting from Santa Monica, CA and ends in New York City covering 3,100 miles.

Donations from the race will go towards MS research and help those with MS.

Blake has segment 15 of the relay assigned to her. Her five-day 141-mile journey will start in Valparaiso, IN and end in Van Wert, OH, averaging 28 miles a day.

In preparation of the race, Blake has found herself involved in all sorts of training besides running every day.

Her six month training program includes kickboxing, kettle ball training, rowing, swimming and other forms of cross training.

However, Blake still finds time for her family and her job in advertising.

Blake said she starts her day at 4 a.m. and hits the pavement before she gets her kids ready for school and out the door herself for work.

“It’s the only time I have for myself,” Blake joked.

Her two children, Zander, 12, and Lucy, 8, join in on her runs, trailing her on a scooter or bicycle while she teaches them about MS.

Blake said she finds herself very grateful for the support and love she receives from family and friends.

“I’d like to thank my husband, Phil, for his support, encouragement and for picking up my slack while I indulge my love for running,” Blake said. “Also, my kids and parents for being my biggest cheerleaders.”

For more information and to make donations, please visit www.msruntheus.org

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