Former squash champion living with MS, now a star fundraiser in Greater Victoria

Shauna Flath promoting MS Walk, running May 28 at Willows Beach

Shauna Flath (right) and a friend participate in the MS Walk Victoria. This year’s walk takes place Sunday, May 28 at Willows Beach. Contributed photo

Shauna Flath knows what it’s like to be at the top of her game.

The 46-year-old Greater Victoria resident is a gold medallist and world champion in squash. She achieved national success when she coached Canada’s national team, helping to lift them to a gold-medal win at the 2011 Pan-American Games.

But in recent years she’s been forced to slow down both athletically and in her career, as she’s been living with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. MS is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system and can cause symptoms of extreme fatigue, lack of co-ordination, weakness, impaired senses and vision problems, among other things.

The condition has made Flath realize her body has its limits.

“I have to be more cognizant and aware of ensuring to the best of my ability to rest, keep life low-key, avoid stress and the busy-ness of life,” she said. “My friends fully understand my limitations and respect that I can’t always do everything.”

The diagnosis hasn’t stopped Flath from giving back to the community. For the past seven years, she and her team, Squash MS, have raised more than $30,000 for the MS Walk Victoria. Flath believes a cure can still be found one day.

“We thought we could raise awareness about the disease, gain some support and assist in our own little way by fundraising,” she said. “This is what we’re doing to find a cure for the disease.”

Flath is one of hundreds of people who will be taking part in the annual Scotiabank MS Walk on Sunday, May 28. As part of the event, more than a dozen communities across the province including the Comox Valley, Duncan and Nanaimo and more than 4,000 participants, will host walks to raise awareness of the disease.

In Victoria, the three or six-kilometre walk begins at Willows Beach. Check in time is 12:30 p.m., and the walk begins at 2:00.

Funds raised go towards research, programs and services offered by the society to help people manage and cope with the disease, such as support groups and the provision of equipment.

According to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, roughly 12,000 British Columbians live with MS. For more information on the walk visit mswalks.ca.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com

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