Walker brings attention to disease | CraigDailyPress.com

Walker brings attention to disease

Dan Olsen
Taking a break to talk with the media on Monday, Joe Casamassima of Stroudsburg, Pa., is walking to San Francisco to raise public awareness of multiple sclerosis, an affliction that affects his mother. Casamassima averages 30 miles per day and hopes to finish his walk Sept. 17.
Dan Olsen

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Joe Casamassima is walking from Pennsylvania to San Francisco to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis.

To donate to fighting MS, log on to http://www.nationalmssoc.... To follow the walk progress, log on to http://www.keystonesmile...

Joe Casamassima, who recently made long strides through the Yampa Valley, was surprised at the ease in which he has walked through the Rocky Mountains.

“I thought the Rockies would be really tough,” he said while passing through Craig on Monday. “But coming from the east it wasn’t too bad.”

Casamassima is walking from his home in Stroudsburg, Pa., to San Francisco in an attempt to raise public awareness about multiple sclerosis. His mother if afflicted by the disabling neurological disorder, and her days are often harder than anything Casamassima has encountered on the roadways of America.

“For people with MS it’s hard,” he said. “They wake up and don’t know what part of their body will hurt today.”

Nationally, one in every 2,000 people have MS. In Moffat County, the ratio is even higher with one in 600 people in Moffat County and the surrounding area getting the disease.

After four years of teaching low-income youth at an independent school in Pennsylvania, Casamassima decided to take the cross-country hike before attending graduate school in the fall.

The people he has met along his walk have given him a renewed outlook on life.

“I’ve met good people all along the route,” he said. “It’s been amazing. People that are strangers have helped me out along the way.”

There were the people that helped in Nebraska when his stroller tires went flat, taking him to the Dairy Queen while his tires were repaired at no charge.

Or the lady who put him up for a night, and then called the next town down the road to find him an additional night’s lodging.

For nearly 2,000 miles, the kindness of Americans has helped Casamassima take the next step.

The 27-year-old hopes to cover 30 to 35 miles per day on his trek, barring rainstorms and other unknowns.

“I’m on track, but crossing the desert lies ahead still,” he said. “That could slow me down.”

Casamassima said he can handle the uncomfortable conditions caused by wind and heat, and the rain that forces him to dry his shoes before blisters become a problem.

He knows each step brings him closer to his goal.

“It’s been humbling,” he said of the walk. “My trip will hopefully finish on Sept. 17, 90 days after I began. For people with MS, there’s no end (of the pain) for them.”

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