Montel Williams runs through Chicago on MS relay across US - FOX 35 News Orlando

Montel Williams runs through Chicago on MS relay across US

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Half a million people nationwide are suffering from multiple sclerosis with at least 10,000 in Chicago. Others have no idea they have the autoimmune disease damaging their brain and spinal cord.

"Right now, you and your family is personally touched by someone who has MS," said television personality Montel Williams in an interview with Fox 32's Tisha Lewis.

Williams is in Chicago with MS Run the US, a group connecting distance runners in a relay run across America to raise awareness about MS.

"What's so crazy about this disease is that symptomatically almost every single individual person who has MS suffers somewhat differently," said Williams.

Some symptoms include numbness in the legs and arms, a tingling sensation and blurred vision.

Williams was diagnosed in 2000.

"But I should have been diagnosed in 1980 when I graduated from the United States Naval Academy. We now can look back at my life and recognize over my life my first bout with MS which was a blind spot," said Williams.

14 runners form the MS Run the US 2013 team.

"They've been running since the middle of April and now we've reached Chicago," said Williams.

"They come from everywhere, all over the country, which I'm really excited about, probably about half the team has a personal direct connection to MS," said Ashley Kumlien, Founder of MS Run the US.

The Rush Multiple Sclerosis Center invented the drug used to treat MS under the helm of Dr. Dusan Stefoski. He says new research shows a possible connection between simple infections, like a bladder infection, triggering the disease associated with MS.

"If a person is symptomatic, maybe on the first go it doesn't look like anything is there a repeat scan several months later, maybe six months later will likely show MS if it is MS… MS produces changes within the brain and spinal cord that are easily detectible by MRI scan," said Stefoski.

"The key is we need a better understanding that no matter how bad it is, we can impact this," said Williams.

Dr. Stefoski says multiple sclerosis is most common in people susceptible to autoimmune diseases. Doctors say it could be several years before a cure is on the horizon.

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