Firefighters hitting ice to benefit MS chapter

Washougal mayor’s wife to be honored by hockey teams

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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Firefighters from Washington and Oregon will face off this weekend in a charity hockey game to benefit people living with multiple sclerosis.

Portland firefighters will take the ice against their counterparts from Seattle on Saturday afternoon. Washougal resident Annie Guard will drop the ceremonial puck to start the game.

Guard, wife of Washougal Mayor Sean Guard, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 11 years ago. Guard’s nephew, Vancouver resident Ryan Potter, is a Portland firefighter and requested the teams play in his aunt’s name.

“I’m really honored,” Annie Guard said. “Very, very honored.”

Multiple sclerosis is a potentially debilitating disease in which a person’s immune system eats away at the protective sheath that covers nerves. Ultimately, it may result in deterioration of the nerves themselves, a process that’s not reversible, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In the past few years, Guard’s multiple sclerosis has progressed. Two and a half years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Treatment for the cancer prevented Guard from continuing her multiple sclerosis treatment. Only recently was she able to resume treatment, she said.

Despite the prevalence of the disease — an estimated 7,200 people in Oregon and Southwest Washington are afflicted — multiple sclerosis is not as high-profile as other diseases, Guard said.

“I’m excited anytime somebody does something to benefit MS,” she said.

All proceeds from this weekend’s hockey game will benefit the Oregon chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which serves Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Guard has been involved with the MS society since she was diagnosed. To support the organization, Sean and Annie Guard developed the Portland Seafood and Wine Festival and participate in the annual Multiple Sclerosis Walk in Vancouver.

The Oregon MS society uses the money raised in area fundraisers to help local people who have the disease. The organization purchases canes, walkers and wheelchairs for people with limited mobility and offers financial assistance to those who have difficulty paying their bills, Guard said.

This weekend’s Golden Skate Charity Hockey Game will begin at noon Saturday at the Rose Garden in Portland. Doors will open at 11 a.m. Tickets are $15 and include admission to the Portland Winterhawks game against the Spokane Chiefs at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Sean Guard plans to collect unwanted tickets for the Winterhawks game and donate them to children at the Blazers Boys & Girls Club.

To purchase tickets, contact the Guards at 360-210-5275 or Monte Schierling at 503-957-4076 or pfhc@live.com.