MS benefit more important than ever to organizers

By 
Kathleen Gilluly
Thursday, July 16, 2020
Shelly Jansma stands behind her best friend for decades, Carol Altman. Altman has had MS for about 30 years and the two work together with their families in the fight against the disease. Jansma is organizing the third annual barbecue on July 25.

Shelly Jansma stands behind her best friend for decades, Carol Altman. Altman has had MS for about 30 years and the two work together with their families in the fight against the disease. Jansma is organizing the third annual barbecue on July 25.

Because it’s important for best friends Carol Altman and Shelly Jansma to walk in the annual MS walk every year, missing this year’s walk was tough for the two women. But, the April walk coincided with the coronavirus shutdown. So, although they have participated one way or another since Altman’s diagnosis in 1993, this is the first year they don’t have a team.

“Our families are committed to helping the local chapter of the MS Society as much as we are,” Altman shared. “My mom and daughter and grandsons all walk and so does all of Shelly’s family, too.”

Jansma organized last year’s second annual fundraising barbecue to boost the donations raised by the Altman Ranch Team, so named in honor of the ranch where she and Altman spent so much time in their childhood enjoying life. The ranch was later donated by Altmans’s father to the BLM, and is known as The Sundance Recreation Area. While both women miss those carefree days, they relish knowing the site south of Laurel where the Clark’s Fork joins the Yellowstone River can be enjoyed by anyone.

Unable to donate to the MS Society through the walk, they are putting all their effort into this year’s barbecue, raffle and auction, Saturday, July 25, at Fat Fender Freddys from noon to 4 p.m.

“We are so grateful to all the donors,” Jansma said. “Considering all the obstacles local businesses are facing, they were very generous.”

Normally, donors to the fundraiser would be thanked on the back of the team shirts worn by walkers. This isn’t a normal year, so some are listed here: Anderson Windows (Glenda Harvey), CHS, USW Local 11-443, Schessler Ready Mix, Paws-n-Reflect, Kota Kennels, Rick and Brenda Kraft, Tinhorn Casino, River’s Edge Landscaping, 406 Medicare, Altman Ranch, Our Saviour’s Preschool, Steve and Shelly Jansma, Cornerstone Financial, Yellowstone Bank, Dynamic Design, Albertsons, Pepsi, Perkins, Franz Outlet Bakery, Ace Hardware, Laurel Outlook, and Fat Fender Freddys.

The barbecue is $8 with a choice of brats or pulled pork, a cookie, chips and a soft drink.

“Come have a dog and see what we have,” Altman said. Some items will be auctioned off while baskets will be raffled. “We really got a lot of nice merchandise,” she added. The money raised will help fund research, programs and services for those impacted by the degenerative disease, Alman said. “They helped me with my insurance and getting new medicines.” The MS Society also provided Altman a connection to others living with MS, during pre-pandemic times.

Altman, like the majority of people with multiple sclerosis, was diagnosed with the relapsing-remitting type of the disease. Unlike most, she first had a misdiagnosis of a brain tumor. Initial diagnosis is usually made after a flare up of symptoms, followed by a period of recovery. Eventually recovery times becomes less frequent over the years, according to a website devoted to finding a cure.

Altman has dealt with the damage to her central nervous system with grace and humor, although she has less and less mobility and energy. In addition to the everyday stress of living with a chronic disease during a pandemic, Altman recently lost a sister, and her elderly parents have health issues. But, she continues to smile and have a upbeat attitude.

“Everyone has been just great. Especially this one here,” she said pointing to Jansma. “Hard to believe, but we still like each other after all these years.”

To volunteer or donate contact Jansma at 661-1847.

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