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Women go ‘wild’ in the fight against multiple sclerosis

COLEBROOK, Conn. — Anyone who gets the wrong idea from the name "Women Gone Wild," be forewarned: It’s not that kind of event. Yes, these women will be armed, but not with just their good looks.

Women go WildWomen Gone Wild is for women interested in learning about the outdoors. Registration includes classes on fishing, hiking, tracking, archery, trap shooting, emergency first aid and more. Money raised from the event will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Connecticut Chapter and the more than 6,000 Connecticut residents who live with the devastating effects of MS.

"The MS Society is an organization that’s close to my heart," said Jennifer Zordan, the event’s organizer. The 38-year-old was diagnosed with MS in 2000 — six weeks before her wedding.

"Multiple sclerosis affects everybody in one way or another, and I want to help fight back," she said.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic and often disabling disease of the central nervous system. There currently is no cure. Symptoms can include, among other things, numbness in the limbs, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness and, in some more severe cases, total paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted.

For Zordan — a Torrington, Conn., resident — the disease began as a tingle here, some numbness there. Now Zordan’s mobility is so severely restricted that some days she needs her wheelchair to go down the driveway to get the mail. For this woman who has always loved the outdoors, the disease has restricted how she pursues her passion. In particular, it has prevented her from getting out in the woods.

"I don’t personally hunt because I can’t get out there," said Zordan. "Any distance walking puts me in my wheelchair. Otherwise I’d be enjoying a multitude of outdoor experiences everywhere I could: in Canada, in Montana — I would even be happy to get out into my own 40-acre back yard."

But Zordan still chooses to actively pursue her passion in the areas still open to her. She became an NRA-licensed pistol safety instructor and joined the Northwest Connecticut Sportsmen's Association in Colebrook, Conn., where shooting ranges and clubhouse are fully accessible.

Zordan also chooses to help other women develop an appreciation for conservation and natural resources through events like Women Gone Wild. All classes at the event are overseen by trained and certified instructors, and an emphasis is put on safety at all times, she said.

"I introduce women to shooting sports," she said. "The majority of people at Women Gone Wild are first-timers."

Last year’s event drew 25 participants from all walks of life, including women in their late 60s and early 70s. Watching these women become more confident and skilled is part of the fun, said Zordan.

"These women are so far out of their own element, but by the end of the day you could see the sense of empowerment in their faces," she said.

Women Gone Wild, hosted by Northwest Connecticut Sportsmen's Association, will take place Sunday, June 1, on the NWCSA’s 90-acre grounds in Colebrook. The registration fee is $50, with a 10-percent discount to those who register before May 10. Each participant will receive four 90-minute classes of her choice. There will also be a demonstration by Raptor Rehab of Canton, Conn., which will have live birds on display. All proceeds from the registration fee, as well as money raised in a silent auction and raffle, will benefit the Connecticut Chapter.

Zordan is thrilled that her event can do double-duty, opening the world of outdoor sports to more women, and raising money to find a cure for multiple sclerosis.

"Right now we’re not armed with the right stuff to fight back against MS. I hope that events like Women Gone Wild can help change that, and improve the lives of other people, like me, living with the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis," she said.

For more information about Women Gone Wild contact Zordan at 860-309-9774 or WomenGoneWild@gmail.com. For more about multiple sclerosis got to http://www.ctfightsms.org/.

3/4/08

CUTLINE: Introduction to Rifle is one of the courses being offered at this year’s Women Gone Wild event taking place Sunday, June 1. The event is a fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Connecticut Chapter, with money going to fund programs and services for the more than 6,000 people in Connecticut living with MS.

 

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