Center for people with multiple sclerosis has new home

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Multiple sclerosis can take away movement and much more including jobs and social connections. Kansas City is one of just a handful of cities that has a center to help people live better with MS. A new home for the center means many more people can join.

They come for exercise.

"A key, a strong key to staying mobile," Cheryl Howell said.

They're fighting the muscle weakness and fatigue that come with multiple sclerosis. In MS, the immune system attacks the central nervous system. Effects can include loss of balance and ability to walk.

They come for exercise and stay for the connections with each other.

"It's really good to be able to talk to other people that know what you're going through," Anne Hussar said.

Hussar has come to the MS Achievement Center for eight years, gaining encouragement from others as her disease has progressed.

"They're still living life and being active," Hussar said.

The center's home had been the Rehabilitation Institute. Now, it's moved into a new, spacious home on the KU Medical Center campus.

"We've for a long time been wishing and dreaming and holding fundraisers and trying to make that step," said Judy Markwardt-Oberheu, the executive director.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the medical center helped fund the new center. KU students in physical and occupational therapy will help out.

"It gives the students a better education about MS. It creates therapists that understand MS better," Markwardt-Oberheu said.

The new KU MS Achievement Center will be able to have more than 100 members compared to 50 before. Each member comes for five hours one day a week.

"It makes you feel good when you come in here, and you want to work," Howell said.

Membership costs $80 a month. Scholarships are available.

An open house will be held Thursday, April 7, from 4 to 6 p.m. The center is located at 3599 Rainbow, inside the Landon Center on Aging.

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