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A dream of summer camp

HILLS -- One person is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) every hour of every day in America.

In 1993, one of those Americans was Dan Brower.

Fifteen years later, Brower now resides in Tuff Memorial Home and gets around using a wheelchair.

Despite the challenges Brower faces due to his aggressive form of MS -- which causes his immune system to attack his own central nervous system -- he remains optimistic and tries to live as normal a life as possible.

"I'd get more therapy there than I get here," Brower explained.

That's why he wants to attend the MS Camp at Camp Courage in Maple Lake in August. There, adults with MS can connect with each other and others affected by the disease, and enjoy activities such as boating, horseback-riding, cooking and crafting.

It won't be easy for Brower to get there, however. He will need a van equipped with a lift to drive him to Maple Lake, which will cost a total of $1,500.

Luverne's MS Support Group has been trying to raise money for Brower to get him to the camp.

A fundraising account for Dan Brower has been set up at Minnwest Bank Luverne to help raise the money for the trip to Maple Lake.

So far the donations have come up short of the goal.

Neil Dohlmann, the facilitator for the Luverne MS Support Group, calls MS a muscle-weakening disease, explaining that MS has many different effects on the body. Symptoms include muscle weakness or spasms, trouble balancing or speaking, fatigue and pain.

Some people with MS can still work, and some can't, Dohlmann said. Some can walk all right, and others need one or two canes or even, like Brower, a wheelchair. MS can affect a person's sense of balance and energy level.

"Everybody is different," Dohlmann said.

After Dohlmann's first attack, which included stroke-like symptoms, it took him a year just to be able to walk around again with a cane. Now he can get around fairly well without a cane, though he has a pronounced limp and gets tired very quickly. He uses a scooter to go shopping.

Dohlmann is grateful he can still walk and hopes that he doesn't go through another relapse.

"(We need to) get him outside to enjoy himself before he gets worse," Dohlmann said of Brower. "I'd sure like to see him get to go."

Luverne's MS Support Group meets the third Thursday of every month at the Rock County Human Services Building in Luverne. Anyone interested in joining should call Dohlmann at (507) 283-2069.

To donate money for Brower to attend the MS camp, call Minnwest Bank Luverne, (507) 283-2366 or visit one of its two locations in Luverne.