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Clay Walker gives $100,000 to support MS research

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ClayWalker.com | Band Against MS Foundation | Photos by Ester Fant

In front of a live audience, country music singing sensation Clay Walker presented a $100,000 check to interim Dean Jerry Wolinsky to support multiple sclerosis (MS) research at the Medical School, during his March 3 performance at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at Reliant Stadium, One Reliant Park.

"Clay and the Band Against MS have been extraordinarily generous to our center," Wolinsky said, at a media event held March 2 at the Medical School. "This is a great day. I'm always delighted when I see Clay on the stage personally - that he's able to do this despite the disease."

Wolinsky, holder of the Bartels Family and Opal C. Rankin Professorships in Neurology, directs the Multiple Sclerosis Research Group and Magnetic Resonance Imaging Analysis Center. The research group is internationally known for its work with imaging and clinical trials. Walker's gift will be used for imaging research to better understand the root causes of the disease.

Dr. Ponnada Narayana, professor of diagnostic and interventional imaging and director of Magnetic Resonance Research, also was on stage for the presentation and attended the media event. Narayana is an accomplished researcher in the field of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) research, which he uses to track the development of multiple sclerosis and traumatic spinal cord injury.

"Thank you both for taking such great care of me," Walker said, speaking to Wolinsky and Narayana. "You've showed me there are things I can do to manage the disease."

Over the years, Walker's Band Against MS Foundation has given $350,000 for MS research at the Medical School. Walker founded the foundation in 2003 to educate others about the disease and provide funding for research.

"It's incredible to be able to give back to our community. I was diagnosed with MS 10 years ago - right before I started my career," Walker said, who has had relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis since 1996. "I think I'm healthier now than I've ever been in my life."

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, neurological disease that attacks the central nervous system. There is no cure, but treatments and therapeutic approaches help to enhance the quality of life for people living with the disease.

Walker had some words of wisdom for those living with MS. "Don't panic," he said. "You're going to be able to manage it."

-C. Webb

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