Mom joining MS fitness program started by son

Mom joining MS fitness program started by son
November 06
00:00 2014
(pictured above:  Brain Murrill with his mom, Patsy.)

MSFit will soon offer free exercise classes at the Gateway YWCA to help those with multiple sclerosis improve their lives.

The new program, which begins in January, will also provide free nutrition and wellness classes to people battling MS, a disease that causes a variety of physical and psychological setbacks as it attacks the central nervous system.

Brain Murrill’s creation of the program was inspired by his mother Patsy, who has lived with MS since 1995. He led an information session about MSFit at the YWCA on Oct. 20. Those who enroll in the free program will receive memberships at the sprawling facility.

DSC_0001“Once a person participates in MSFit, they have access to the benefits of the YWCA, not just the actual (MSFit) classes … a full membership,” he said. “They will have a home in MSFit for programs that cater to their specific needs.”

Murrill said the benefits of exercise for MS sufferers cannot be overstated. Studies have shown that exercising can slow the effects of the disease and improve mobility and mental health. MSFit participants will take part in the YWCA’s Silver Sneakers, a popular exercise program for senior citizens.

Yvonne Diggs leads Dorothy Rice and Patricia Welty in an exercise demo.

Yvonne Diggs leads Dorothy Rice and Patricia Welty in an exercise demo.

Instructor Yvonne Diggs led Dorothy Rice and Patricia Welty in an exercise demonstration during the information session; the women showed how dumbbells and weighted balls can be used while sitting or standing.

MSFit participants must first be cleared by their doctor. Graduate students from the Winston-Salem State University Physical Therapy program will also evaluate them.

Dr. Emma White speaks

Dr. Emma White speaks

“Initially, all new participants will undergo a screening because we know everyone starts at a different level,” said Dr. Emma White, an assistant Physical Therapy professor at WSSU.

Mark Scheerer, chapter program manger for the Greater Carolina Chapter of the National MS Society, lauded MSFit and said it perfectly coincides with the MS Society’s 2014 theme of wellness.

“As you know, MS is just one aspect of your life,” he said. “There are other things you can be (afflicted) with: heart disease, diabetes, being overweight, hypertension. So we want to see everyone develop a wellness lifestyle,” he said.

Patsy Murrill is one of the first to sign up for her son’s program. The disease has affected her ability to walk, but says it has not slowed her down. With her motorized scooter, she is able to teach at North Hills Elementary School and take part in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and church activities.

“People know me as the girl that rides around town on a scooter,” she said. “Everyone that sees me tells me to, ‘Slow down, slow down!’”

Her active lifestyle does not include exercise, however. She said she owns sittersize videos but hasn’t used them. MSFit, she said, will be the great motivator she needs.

Di Jones

Di Jones

Di Jones is also signing up, adding to her long list of fitness endeavors. MS, which she was diagnosed with in 2006, has comprised her vision in one eye. She stays active by running, biking and doing other forms of exercise regularly. She rode 100 miles in two days during the Bike MS: Tour de Tanglewood in September. She believes exercise has probably helped stave off some of the worst MS symptoms.
“Physical activity is so important not only to your physical wellbeing, but I think for your mental health too,” she said.

Deborah Sims is literally walking proof that exercise can help battle MS. She was diagnosed in 1980, and her worst flare up left her paralyzed on her left side and unable to walk in 1988. It took a year and a half of therapy to regain her ability to walk.

Deborah Sims

Deborah Sims

“I was just determined,” she said. “I had three kids and I was just determined to do this.”
Now she exercises 4-5 times a week at the YWCA to help keep her mobile. She plans to add MSFit to her active lifestyle.

MSFit is also currently raising funds. Search for “MSFit Foundation” on to donate online. For more information on the program, call 336-464-6604 and email

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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