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No matter where she was – and she certainly made it to her fair share of different places – Gwen Reid touched the lives around her with her upbeat, loving personality and affinity for staying active.
Whether it was cross-stitching, painting, singing in the church choir, teaching Sunday school or an annual skiing trip, Reid always kept herself busy by doing what she loved most. Known by her family and friends as a traveler, Reid made sure to see as much of the world as she could, including trips to Israel, Egypt and Alaska.
That active lifestyle came to a sudden halt in 2003 when Reid was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the nervous system. Being diagnosed with the disease never dampened her spirits, as family members can still recall the positive attitude she kept, the smiles she showed despite being affected by it. After nine years, Reid’s battle with MS ended when she died in February 2011 at age 59.
At this month’s fourth annual Founder’s Day 5K/1 Mile Benefit Run on June 22, Reid’s family and friends will honor her life when they walk in her memory with the name Team Gwen Reid for the third straight year.
“She was a very loving aunt and sister. We did so many things together and I have so many great memories of the time I spent with her growing up,” Team Gwen Reid captain and Reid’s niece Michelle Reid said. “It’s a great thing that we’re able to honor her life with the walk and it’s been something that has helped us heal. She was such a special lady to a lot of people.”
The team came to be back in 2011 when Michelle and some of her coworkers decided to celebrate Gwen’s life and help try to fight MS at the 5K event. After having six members in its first year and four at last year’s event, the group has grown to 13 in 2013.
“If we can find something that helps cure it, that would be incredible,” Michelle Reid said. “It was so hard to see her in that condition, we did so many things together. She took my brother and I to Disney World and took us to San Antonio to SeaWorld when we were kids.”
Michelle Reid said she had not really been aware of the condition until it affected Gwen, who worked at Haliburton for more than 30 years. She sees the annual run as a chance to bring that awareness to others.
Every year when the team comes together, it serves as a chance to reminisce and look back on the memories of Gwen’s life.
“I enjoy everyone doing it. As soon as Michelle brought it up, I knew it was a great idea,” Mike Reid, Gwen’s younger brother, said. “Any time you can do something like this, tell her story, it helps you heal. We were always so close.”
The event’s organizer J’Nell Ash, who has also been diagnosed with MS, said she knew the race was making a difference when the group started walking back in 2011.
“ The first yeat that they joined, they had the white shirt with the MS logo, and I went ‘ this is an awesome thing,’” she said. “ Just reaching out to the community of people affected by MS, we’re making a difference, because every dollar we raise is so vitally important. I take it as a step toward progress, healing and a better quality of life for those people.”