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August 01, 2015

Hope at Large - Hitting MS hard

Jayman Group lends hand in fight against multiple sclerosis

Marty Hope

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Lance Bouma probably wasn’t keeping a tally of the number of times he crunched opposition skaters into the boards.

And the tough-as-nails centre for the Calgary Flames probably also didn’t know he was leading the team fight against a debilitating disease every time he stepped into a different-coloured jersey with all of his 210-pound frame.

Official regular-season stats show that the 25-year-old Provost native leveled opposing players a team-leading 264 times.

The story is probably much the same for Lethbridge-born left winger Rob Klinkhammer of the Edmonton Oilers who used his 220-pound bulk to put down Oiler opposition 236 times.

Fact is, they are teammates in the ongoing fight against multiple sclerosis — as is every player on both teams.

For every body check doled out by the teams, the Jayman Group of Companies contributes $100 to the Hitting Hard for MS campaign. This year, the body check count led to a total of $376,200 being raised.

“We wanted to show our commitment as a business, but also as a family,” says Jayman chair, Jay Westman. “It’s our way of bringing more awareness to multiple sclerosis.”

Fighting MS by raising funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada has always been an important and personal cause for the veteran house building company and the Westman family. Three generations of Westmans have been impacted by neurological or auto-immune disorders, as have friends and family of many Jayman employees.

Diana Joseph, Westman’s sister and president of the Westman Charitable Foundation, is one who has been affected by MS, as was her mother and grandmother. Matter of fact, says Jay, the body checking charity idea was all hers.

The majority of money raised from the campaign will stay in Alberta where more than 14,000 people are currently living with MS. Statistics show that more people are affected by MS per capita in Alberta than anywhere else in the world.

“MS is Alberta’s disease,” says Nick Dehod, manager of marketing and communications for the Alberta and Northwest Territories division of the MS Society of Canada. “We are excited that Jayman and the Flames and Oilers have stepped up to be leaders in the fight to end MS.”

But the homebuilding family’s commitment doesn’t end with the end of the hockey season. There is still much work to be done to assist researchers at the University of Calgary in studying the progression of MS.

To this end, the Westman Charitable Foundation presented a $1-million gift to support the Multiple Sclerosis Translational Clinical Trials Research Program at the Cumming School of Medicine’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute so researchers will be able to investigate new treatment options for the rarest form of the disease.

It’s part of the Westman foundation’s vision to improve Albertans’ health, education and shelter, says Joseph.

“We are confident the work of researchers at the University of Calgary will discover new treatments for those with one of the most challenging forms of MS. These trials are going to make a tangible impact on those with MS,” she adds.

About 100,000 Canadians have MS, an inflammatory neurological disorder that damages nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Patients can experience any number of symptoms including weakness, tremor, pain, and loss of balance and memory.

There are four disease courses in MS: relapsing-remitting MS, primary-progressive MS, secondary-progressive MS, and progressive-relapsing MSZ. Each of these diseases might be mild, moderate, or severe.

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