Outhouse races want to help flush MS

ST. MARYS - It’s generally a social blunder to have toilet paper trailing behind you, but no one will think anything of it when the third annual "Kick the Crap out of MS Outrageous Outhouse Race" takes place on May 12 in downtown St. Marys. The event was the brainchild of co-founders Jessica Bauer and Kevin O’Leary, who wanted to raise money to help with home modifications, transportation costs and other daily needs of area residents diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic neurological disease that attacks the central nervous system. Bauer knows firsthand about the difficulties someone with MS can face; she was diagnosed with the disease in 2003. Following her diagnosis, she realized there were more people with MS living in the area than she realized. “You know when you buy a new car, and you didn't know about that car before, and you start driving it around, and then you start seeing [other people driving] that car everywhere? While that's kind of what it was like when I was diagnosed with MS, and it opened my eyes, and I was like, 'Wow-- there are so many people in this area with MS,'” Bauer said. She said the disease progresses differently for different people, from people who don’t show any outward sign of the disease to those who are wheelchair-bound because of its progression. “You could have 50 of us in a line, and every one of us could be suffering differently. It's a tricky little disease,” Bauer said. Bauer and O'Leary said while they have have participated in national MS fundraising events over the years, it is very important to them that the money collected through the races stays in the county to help area residents. To that end, a bank account has been established to distribute the funds, and 100 percent of the proceeds from the race go into that fund to help people with MS. “We used to go to the MS walk, but instead of raising the money to go to the MS team, we decided to do something that would go to the area, that would keep the money local,” Bauer said. "A lot of times, any time it's like a national event, that money goes out of here and we don't know how much of that stays in our local community," O'Leary said. "This is a way to ensure that funds stay here to help people with MS in our local communities.