The Hyderabad chapter of MSSI made their presence felt at the recently held half marathon represented by their cause ambassador Milind Soman

It is a rare sight indeed to see so many people congregating on a Sunday morning. But on November 22 this was precisely the scene as thousands assembled near Hussain Sagar Lake to take part in the half marathon and 10 km run organised by the Hyderabad 10K foundation.

Among the thousands running were a group of people who were representing the Hyderabad chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India (MSSI). And among this group of people was a familiar face – actor and model, Milind Soman.

For a little more than ten years, Milind Soman has been the cause ambassador for MSSI. But it was only six years ago after representing the cause at the Mumbai marathon that he really found a way to contribute. “I used to feel that it was too difficult for me to do anything to help but then I represented them at the race. I was able to get a tremendous amount of publicity and awareness for the cause,” he says.

So now whenever there is a marathon in India or abroad, Milind grabs his running shoes and is off to represent MSSI. Running in Hyderabad for the first time, Milind says, “I was completely blown away by the sheer enthusiasm, love and energy of the people. The route was beautiful and the weather was perfect”.

Meena Gupta, the chairperson for the Hyderabad chapter of MSSI, says that this is the first time they have participated in the Hyderabad 10K. “There is not much awareness about the disease or the fact that there is a society that supports this cause.” She adds, “By taking part in this run, people will know there is something called Multiple Sclerosis and they can inform friends and other people about the society.”

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that affects the nerve cells, for which there is no cure. The Hyderabad chapter, which was started four years ago, aims at providing support for people affected by the disease as well as their family member. They meet once a month and programmes are organised with doctors, therapists and “anybody who can help them cope with the disease,” says Meena.

The organisation has a physiotherapist who makes house calls. The society also provides medicines at subsidised rates and pays for hospital visits according to the MS affected persons' financial status. Hopefully by using the Hyderabad 10K run as a platform, the society has increased its reach.

Milind says that when he first joined MSSI, he had no knowledge about the disease, but now he is doing his bit in spreading the message. “Very soon I will start working with local chapters across India to strategize on how they can use my name and presence for the cause,” he says. “Most people don't know how simple it is to help, mostly by doing things that they are really good at and probably do all the time anyway.”

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of India (Hyderabad chapter) is located at Aman, road no. 8, Banjara Hills. Their e-mail id is mssihyderabad@gmail.com and the helpline numbers are 9390055598, 9391031711 and 9849015313.

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