Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, May 6, 2002

Former Winsted resident walks 16 snowy miles for an MS cure

By Julie Yurek

The weather wasn't the best, but the eight member team followed through with their promise to walk for multiple sclerosis (MS) April 21.

For the ninth year in a row, Sherm's Team of St. Bonifacius has raised money for the MS Society's MS Walk.

"This year the team raised over $25,000," team captain Sherm Junker said.

"Including this year's money, the team has raised about $140,000 in nine years," team member Kathy Rathmanner said.

She is a former Winsted resident and has walked on the team for seven years.

The team was a top contributor in the state for donations for four years in a row, Junker said.

"We collect from about 2,000 individuals," Junker said. "Many are patrons of my bar." Junker owns the St. Boni Inn in St. Bonifacius.

"I don't even need to ask, they just donate every year," he said. There is no set amount to donate, he said. "If someone wants to give a dollar, we'll take it. It all adds up."

The team collects donations from people in Howard Lake, Waverly, Winsted, Montrose, Hopkins, Excelsior, Victoria, Maple Plain, Waconia, and St. Boni, Rathmanner said.

This year, the walk was also more local than usual. Sherm's Team started from the St. Boni Inn to Lake Waconia access, around the lake, and back to St. Boni for a total of 16 miles, Junker said.

"We decided to walk locally to show people that we really do walk 16 miles," Rathmanner said.

Also, it was a lot easier to walk closer to home, rather than drive an hour to the cities to walk from Minneapolis to St. Paul, which is one of the sites for a MS Walk, Junker said.

There are 13 sites in Minnesota for the MS Walk: Bemidji, Brainerd, Duluth, Fergus Falls, Grand Rapids, Hibbing, International Falls, Mankato, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Rochester, St. Cloud, and Willmar.

The walking distances at the locations vary from two to 16 miles, according to the organization's web site, www.nmss. org.

"Instead of driving to the cities, we asked the society if we could walk around here and they were fine with it," Junker said.

Junker and Don Huget walked 10 miles, Junker said. "We intended on walking the whole way."

Junker is in his mid 60s and Huget is in his early 70s, Rathmanner said. "I think they both did a great job."

Lyle Bren of St. Boni supported the team with the use of his motorhome, Rathmanner said.

"The walk in the cities has water, food, and bathroom stations along the route. We weren't going to have that out here," Rathmanner said.

Bren volunteered to drive his motorhome ahead of the team. There the team could get a drink, grab a snack, and use the rest room, she said.

For the team, it's more than just a walk; it's a way to help find a cure. Junker's wife, Janie, has MS.

He and his three daughters, Tania, Trenny, and Stephanie, wanted to do something to help Janie, Junker said.

"Janie was 34 when she found out she had MS. It didn't start to affect her until she was in her late 40s," Junker said.

Now 60, Janie has been bedridden for almost two years, Junker said. "She's so upbeat and positive."

Another member on Sherm's Team, Buck Uecker, originally from Howard Lake, has a personal reason to walk also.

Uecker's brother-in-law, Craig Leaf, has MS too, Rathmanner said.

"We hope the money we raise helps find a cure for this disease," Rathmanner said.

The team is expecting to do the walk locally again next year, Junker said.

To donate to the MS Society, call Junker at (952) 446-1215 or the society at (612) 335-7900.

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