June is Myasthenia Gravis (MG) Awareness Month. MG ambassador Paula McGinnis of Metropolis is gearing up for this year's MG Walk, set for 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21 at a new location this year -- Fort Massac State Park.
Registration will begin at 9 a.m.
With the awareness color once again being teal, the theme for the 2019 Southern Illinois Walk is: "MG Strong: Be the Change."
"There are the inevitable changes that come into our lives," said McGinnis.
"Is there anyone that planned to be diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis or any other serious, chronic illness and definitely not one that has no cure?"
Myasthenia Gravis is a rare chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disorder that is characterized by fluctuating weakness of the voluntary muscles. MG can impact a person's ability to see, walk, talk, breathe and smile.
It is estimated approximately 100,000 people in the United States have MG.
It can affect people of all ages, genders and race, and there is no cure.
The Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America (MGFA), www.mysthenia.org, is the only national organization dedicated to research, awareness and advocacy efforts to help MG patients.
"I was diagnosed with MG in 2006," explained McGinnis.
"I have learned that 'I am MG strong,' because when I am weak, I am strengthened by keeping my faith, perseverance and positive attitude through the adversities.
"In 2014 I made the choice to persevere, stand firm as my own advocate and begin a journey as an ambassador, raising awareness," stated McGinnis.
"I organized and began the first MG Walk in the region, with teams from southern Illinois, southeast Missouri, western Kentucky, western Tennessee and southern Indiana. Since I am from Metropolis, known as the home of Superman, it was interesting to know the first chair of the MCGA in 1955 was George Reeves, an actor who portrayed Superman."
McGinnis adds through her ambassadorship, she is allowed to share her MG awareness with others, many who do not know about the disease, and it gives her the opportunity to let other MG patients know that they are not alone in the world with this rare neuromuscular disease.
"If you have MG, never underestimate the inspiration you can be to others as you live with MG with dignity and courage," said McGinnis. "Your life may be different from what it was before MG, but you are not alone in the world with it and it matters."
Since being diagnosed, McGinnis has published three books concerning MG, with proceeds benefitting MGFA and various missions.
Throughout the month, McGinnis has been busy participating in events and raising awareness.
She will be at Metropolis Big John on Saturday, June 22 from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., passing out MG awareness information and also conducting a book signing.
To form a team, go to www.join.mgwalk.org/southernillinois
Anyone wanting to join McGinnis' team or make a donation can go to: join.mgwalk.org/paulaburnettmcginnis