“I couldn’t believe strangers were willing to get punched in the face to raise money to support MS and Brock’s Power Cord program,” said Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being Power Cord member Rowena Bell-Christman at a cheque presentation event last week.
Pearl Gloves is a Las Vegas-style annual charity boxing event in Niagara that features white-collar fighters stretching themselves to their limits in front of hundreds of people for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease of the central nervous system.
This year’s sold-out event expanded its list of benefactors to include a $22,000 donation to Power Cord, a wheelchair-accessible program that customizes exercise to individuals with spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and amputations.
“Pearl Gloves is a community building event and just like Power Cord has built a community, we’ve built a community between the organizing team, fighters, coaches, sponsors and charities,” said Jessica Potts, chair of Pearl Gloves.
Potts said it was the personal stories of Power Cord members that stood out and helped the committee select the program as a new recipient of this year’s fundraising efforts.
“Power Cord is a hidden gem in our community that does incredible work, providing inspirational stories of support,” she said.
Among Power Cord’s members are more than 25 with MS.
Bell-Christman, who was diagnosed with MS when she was in university, has been a member of the Power Cord program for more than two years.
“Since I joined Power Cord, my gait was assessed and the staff and students have helped me to find exercises that allow me to walk better,” Bell-Christman said. “It is my home away from home, where I always feel safe and welcome.”
“I have MS. Some days are good and I can walk upright and other days, I can’t even feed myself because I cannot get out of bed,” said Power Cord member Jasmine Rees. “My MS symptoms can change from day to day. Just because I am having a good day today, tomorrow is no guarantee.”
Each semester, more than 30 Brock students gain insight into the specific needs and challenges of those living with MS by completing experiential learning hours and volunteering to work at the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being, where the Power Cord program is housed.
“It’s the students who help to make Power Cord what it is,” said Kinesiology Associate Professor and Power Cord founder David Ditor. “They give so much to the individuals they work with, but they get so much out of it themselves. It would be impossible to do this without them.”
MS is one of the most misunderstood diseases and most of the students working with Power Cord members are also taking a Brock course where they learn about spinal cord injury and MS.
“We’re thrilled to have the support of Pearl Gloves, not just in terms of fundraising, but also getting the word out about MS,” said Ditor.
“I am so pleased that Pearl Gloves recognizes Power Cord for the important program it is. For the members, it is so much more than an exercise program. It has become a support system,” said Bell-Christman. “There is no other program like this in Niagara and without financial sustainability, I’m not sure how we would be able to cope. Everybody here loves it and wants it to continue indefinitely.”