Spotlight on Multiple Sclerosis after death of Annette Funicello - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Funicello's death puts spotlight on Multiple Sclerosis awareness

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Before there was Britney or Christina, she was America's sweetheart, an original mousketeer. Back twenty-years ago, it was pretty shocking when she announced she had Multiple Sclerosis.

Annette Funicello died Monday after complications with MS at the age of 70.

In the wake of her death, communitues are continuing to fight to raise awareness about the disease.

In Savannah, the MS Walk will be held April 20th in Daffin Park beginning at 10 a.m. WTOC is one of more than two dozen teams raising money and awareness about the disease, which people really don't know that much about after all these years.

It's been around since the mid-1800's, always had a nasty stigma attached to it, and today, it's a more manageable disease than it was even 10 years ago. However, it's also very unpredictable and there is still no cure.

WTOC Don Logana says he has learned more about it because his sister was diagnosed with MS a few years ago, so he has become more involved. The world learned more about it when Annette Funicello announced she had MS back in 1992.

"Annette Funicello was one of the first famous people to actually come out and say she had the disease," Cathy Cribbs said. "She did so at a time when the stigma was very strong and not much information about it was available. She was such an advocate for MS and for research and had such a positive attitude, it gave people with MS something to look forward to. She was an inspiration and a role model."

However, Funicello soon disappeared from the spotlight until her death.

Cribbs was diagnosed with MS four years ago, and works as a nurse and as an MS educator. She says in death, Funicello now has brought MS back to the conscious of America.

"She has. They are thinking about MS now," Cribbs said.

In Savannah, the MS Walk Savannah is just 12 days away. More than two dozen teams, including Team WTOC who is partnering with Fitness on Broughton, are raising money as we speak for MS research and to help find a cure. WTOC has been taking pictures of community members and businesses and posting them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with donation signs, which you can view at the Team WTOC MS Walk Savannah Page.

Monday night, the Alee Shriners Oriental Band donated $100 to the cause. WTOC snapped their picture, tweeted, Facebooked and Instagrammed it and linked it to their social media sites.

"We'll do anything we can to help funds like MS with you," they said.

Cathy made her own donation from the company, 2 Cutie Patooties. She says the money raised for the National MS Society Georgia Chapter in Savannah goes for more than just research and a cure. She'd like to see an MS center eventually. Right now, in Savannah, there are specific needs for MS patients.

"Heat assistance. Heat is the enemy of MS and money will go to help with air conditioning assistance and cool down vests and things like that," Cribbs said.

All of the pictures seen in the story in the video will also be available in a slide show here on wtoc.com, and are adding more donations and more pictures everyday. If you are interested in donating or joining the team to walk on April 20th, you can do both by clicking here.

If you would like to make a donation and be part of Team WTOC social media Insta-Face-Tweet campaign, donate and have a picture taken with your donation amount, and email it to dlogana@wtoc.com.

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