When fitness instructor Bev Wright started to suffer unexplained aches and pains she assumed her symptoms were related to injuries sustained in her 20-year career.
But when she experienced numbness in her ribcage,Bev, who runs Leeds-based Ab Fab Fitness with friend Andrea Riddoch realised it was something more serious.
Visiting her GP, she underwent neurological tests and eventually, on Valentine’s Day 2013, her doctor revealed that she was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.
“When the doctor said ‘MS’, I looked behind me and then thought ‘is he talking to me?’.”
“Part of you thinks ‘why me?’, when I have done everything that I possibly can to keep myself really healthy,” Bev said.
“I don’t have dairy, bread, processed foods – and I’ve been like that most of my adult life. You can’t help but feel a bit bitter, but it’s just one of those things.”
Rather than be consumed by the negative effects of her MS, Bev decided to chanel her enegeries in a positive way.
“I was so shocked. I knew I had to do something to raise funds and awareness of the condition”, said Bev.
“I got together with a small group of friends and decided to hold an MS charity ball.”
A total of 180 guests attended the inaugural ball in November 2013, raising £6,300 which was donated to the West Yorkshire MS Therapy Centre in Rawdon, and a local branch of the MS Society.
The event was so successful that Bev decided to host another in 2014. The second event was an even bigger success, attracting 293 people and raising an impressive £11,000 for the Yorkshire Brain Research Centre.
Bev wanted to keep up her fundraising efforts, but due to her condition she needed to pace herself so decided to host the ball every 18 months rather than an annual event.
As well as organising the MS charity ball, which takes place on May 7 this year, the team are also recording an Ice Ball Anthem which will be available to download on ITunes.
All of the proceeds will be going to the charity.
“So many people don’t even know what MS is, so I want to keep hosting the ball to raise awareness and funds,” said Bev.
She said she tries to stay as positive as possible, but the last few years have been a rollercoaster of emotions.
“I’ve been up one minute, down the next, but everything I’ve read says you have just got to deal with it and just do everything you possibly can not to let it affect you.
“Most of the time I just try to do that.”
Bev still teaches, although she struggles with fatigue, which is one of the symptoms of MS.
However she said she has had invaluable support from her husband Steve, family, friends and especially the women who attend her classes.
WHAT IS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS?
Multiple Sclerosis affects the central nervous system. The coating around the nerve fibres, called myelin, is damaged. The word sclerosis refers to the scar tissue or lesions around the myelin.
Experts are unsure what triggers the condition but doctors in Sheffield have recently claimed some success in trials resetting the immune system with stem cells.
The third ICE Ball takes place at the Craiglands Hotel, Ilkley. Tickets are £60 from msfundraising.co.uk/events/ice-ball-2016.html