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Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

3280 Russell Road, 2nd Floor Quantico, Va. 22134
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Marines team up to fight MS - Father inspires Marine's crusade

By Public Affairs Office, MCRD San Diego | | March 12, 2004

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Several Depot Marines will join thousands of San Diegans in the fight against multiple sclerosis this weekend during the San Diego County Credit Union MS Walk Sunday at the Embarcadero Marina Park.

The Marines are part of a team headed up by Sgt. Ethan E. Rocke, combat correspondent, Public Affairs Office, whose father, Gary W. Rocke Sr., was diagnosed with MS in 1990.

For Sgt. Rocke, the walk has special meaning because he knows the potential devastating effects of MS.

"My dad was diagnosed 13 years ago, and while he struggles with fatigue and painful muscle spasms every day, he's in pretty good shape compared to many other MS sufferers," said Sgt. Rocke. "However, one of the worst things about MS is that those who suffer from it can take a turn for the worse any given day. I pray organizations like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society will help to ensure my dad never sees that day."

According to Sgt. Rocke, when he decided to get involved with the MS Walk, he saw his fellow Marines as the perfect group of people to support his cause. He formed a 10-person team called Rocke's Crusaders with the help of the MS Walk Web site. Each team member is gathering donations for the 10K walk, and the team goal is to raise at least $2,000.

"I knew I could count on my fellow Marines to back me," said Sgt. Rocke. "It doesn't matter the situation - Marines are always there for each other, and the MS Walk is no different. The majority of the Marines I've solicited from have donated, and many of them have forwarded my solicitation to their friends and contacts." 

Sgt. Rocke said he has received support from all over the country, and people he doesn't even know have contributed to his cause. However, while he has exceeded his personal goal of raising $200, his teammates have not reached the 200-dollar mark yet.

Rocke's Crusaders will continue to raise money up until the last minute to try and reach the team goal of $2,000.

"Right now I'm short of my 200-dollar goal, but I plan on raising money all the way up until the walk," said Lance Cpl. Edward R. Guevara Jr., one of Rocke's Crusaders. "I'm going to go door to door Saturday, and I won't quit until I meet my goal at least. This is a great cause, and I want to do all I can to help."

While meeting the goal is important to Sgt. Rocke, he said being able to raise awareness about MS in the process has been very rewarding.

"A lot of people don't realize how serious and widespread MS is," he said. "Since I started collecting donations, I received an e-mail from a Marine friend telling me about one of his leaders who was diagnosed with MS less than a month ago."

Approximately 400,000 Americans acknowledge having MS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Web site, and approximately 200 people a week are diagnosed with the disease.  It usually strikes adults between the ages of 20 and 50. Those suffering from MS can experience loss of muscle coordination, slurred speech, tremors, stiffness, fatigue and severe vision problems.

Funds raised by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society help support research to find a cause and cure for MS and promote a full range of programs for MS sufferers.

"I'm glad I can be involved with this year's MS Walk," Sgt. Rocke said. "It's an easy way to make an impact in the fight against MS, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to do this for my dad and everyone who suffers from MS."

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Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable neurological disease that affects the central nervous system. The central nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord and the optic nerves. Those nerve fibers are protected by a fatty tissue called myelin, which helps nerve fibers conduct electrical impulses. In MS, myelin is lost in multiple areas. This loss leaves scar tissue called sclerosis. When the myelin or the nerve fibers are damaged, the nerves' ability to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain are disrupted, and the symptoms of MS appear.

Source: National MS Society Web site

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