When former Peoria Mayor Dave Ransburg passed away last November, many of his friends and colleagues were unfamiliar with the disease that took his life. Ransburg had Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), which is similar to Parkinson’s disease, but advances much more quickly and does not respond to the same medications.

As a former caregiver, Dr. Larry Kellerman knows the neurodegenerative disease all too well: his wife Colleen passed away in 2016 after an eight-year battle with MSA. Kellerman, who continues to serve on the board of the national MSA Coalition, offers three reasons to become familiar with this devastating disease:

  1. The disease is 100% terminal, with an average lifespan of seven to 10 years from onset of symptoms. MSA was labeled “Parkinson's on steroids” by one patient prior to his passing, and that is a good description of its impact on patients.
  2. The disease is sporadic and occurs primarily in people 40 to 65 years of age. It has two versions: MSA-Parkinson's and MSA-Cerebellar.
  3. The disease needs awareness because it is so rare—only four or five in 100,000 people are diagnosed with this disease. In central Illinois, there may only be 12 to 16 patients with this disease.

In recognition of MSA Awareness Month, the fifth annual “Gettin' the Word Out!” fundraiser will take place from 4 to 10pm on March 24, 2018 at the Gateway Building in Peoria. In addition to live blues music and great food, there will be a silent auction of blues and college basketball memorabilia, education and awareness activities, college basketball on the big screen, and more. Email [email protected] or call (309) 634-6357 for tickets or more information. iBi