WESTMINSTER – If it’s summer – and it will be soon – it must be time for the annual local golf tournament that benefits the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The fifth annual Keep S’Myelin for Katie golf tournament will tee off on Saturday at 9:00 am on the Woods of Westminster Golf Course. The 18-hole tournament, sponsored by resident companies Advanced Glass and Mirror, has quickly become a staple for local golfers looking to have fun and raise money for a good cause. Check-in for the tournament begins one hour before the start time.

The tournament, which raised more than $ 24,000 in the first four years of its existence, was founded and brought to life by Julie Tucker, whose daughter, Katie Hodge, 26, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis six years ago .

“Katie was diagnosed with MS when she was sophomore in college,” Tucker said. “That was a real hit for us.”

Multiple sclerosis was no unknown enemy to Tucker when Hodge was diagnosed.

“My first experience with MS was with my father. I never saw my father walk. When I was born, he was in a wheelchair, he was paraplegic, ”said Tucker, an office manager at Quabbin Regional Middle School. “He had a great sense of humor, and I think that’s why he lived with this debilitating disease for so long. My father was 59 when he died before one of my children – his grandchildren – were born. “

Hodge was diagnosed with relapsing and remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) shortly after her 20th birthday.

The name of the golf tournament “Keep S’Myelin for Katie” refers to multiple sclerosis as MS is an autoimmune disease. The immune system erodes the myelin sheath that covers the nerves, and the myelin sheath needs to be kept intact.

The symptoms of MS include: visual disturbances; Heat sensitivity; Numbness, especially in the feet; weakness; fatigue; Difficulty thinking clearly; Depression; Problems with balance; and lack of coordination. Relapsing and remitting MS refers to relapses after diagnosis that last at least 24 hours. Symptoms worsen during a relapse. A relapse is followed by remission. Symptoms will partially or completely go away during remission.

“The diagnosis of MS was devastating for Katie. All she knew about MS was that her grandfather had it and was in a wheelchair within a year of being diagnosed, ”Tucker said. “She had a tough first year; She had three relapses. Katie had many relapses in her first two years. ”

Hodge is currently the fourth drug doctors have tried to slow or stop their relapses.

“Katie had a really bad relapse (January 2020),” Tucker said. “We thought she was going to be bedridden, but she snapped back.”

The latest drug that Hodge prescribed 18 months ago is a three-hour infusion treatment given twice a year. Tucker said Hodge has not had a relapse since starting IV treatments.

“MS is so strange; it affects everyone differently, ”said Tucker.

Shortly after Hodge was diagnosed with MS, Tucker became involved with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“Our first walk for the MS Society was a three mile MS in Worcester. There we heard about the 50 mile Cape Cod Walk sponsored by the MS Society, ”said Tucker. “Katie initially resisted the 50 mile run, but when she finally decided we wanted to do it, she was glad she had. Since then she has been very committed to the MS society. You and I have actually been on the Steering Committee for the Cape Cod Walk for two years. “

Challenge Walk MS: Cape Cod 2021 takes place from September 10th to 12th. The race starts in Hyannis.

“This is our sixth year doing the Cape Cod Walk,” said Tucker. “Katie has run the full 80 miles in the last two years.”

All of Tucker’s fundraising goes to the Challenge Walk, which helps people diagnosed with MS in many ways, including providing funding options for various forms of medication and treatment plans, including that currently being run by Hodge.

Participant of the year

Tucker and the fundraising team she is on have raised $ 45,000 since joining the MS Society, including $ 24,000 from the first four years of the golf tournament. The team goal for this year is $ 15,000.

Tucker raises funds in a number of ways, including Facebook and sports grids (think Squares Pools). She put together sports grids for the Super Bowl and wanted to put one together for the Stanley Cup Finals if the Boston Bruins had progressed this far.

The golf tournament will contain a large number of raffle items.

“I (am) pre-selling tickets for the golf tournament,” said Tucker. “Among the raffles are golf foursomes for the Wayland Country Club and the Woods of Westminster Golf Course. We also have a scratch card tree and some nice gift baskets and lots of gift certificates for a lot of different places. We also have homemade raffle items. “

For a closer look at Tucker’s fundraising efforts, visit https://mssociety.donordrive.com/participant/Julie-Tucker.