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News : Health Mar 5, 2013 - 5:19:40 AM

New London woman shines light on debilitating illness

By National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter

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New London residents Kailah Pflugbeil and her mother, Gail Espinosa Pflugbeil, are taking their fundraising to a new level this year, hosting their first-ever Shining Starts For MS Boutique Shopping Extravaganza. Kailah will host the event in honor of her mother, who was diagnosed with MS when Kailah was only 11 years old. The shopping extravaganza, to take place Sunday, March 17, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Mohegan Fire Company, in Uncasville, will feature more than 25 local merchants and vendors. Event proceeds will support Kailah’s Walk MS team, the Shining Stars. There is no cost to attend the event. For more information on the Shining Stars For MS Boutique Shopping Extravaganza, please email Kailah Pflugbeil at or email Rhonda at For more information about the 2013 Walk MS, presented by Travelers, visit
NEW LONDON, CT - New London resident Kailah Pflugbeil was just 11 years old when her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a potentially debilitating disease. At the time, she didn’t know much about the illness but it wasn’t long before the implications became clear.

“My mother’s MS not only affected her health and mobility, but it had an emotional impact on us all,” said Kailah, 20, whose parents divorced five years after her mother’s diagnosis. “People just don’t know how MS affects lives – how it can tear families apart. People know about cancer, but not multiple sclerosis. Because the symptoms of MS mimic the symptoms of so many other diseases, I want everyone to understand that multiple sclerosis is difficult to diagnose and even more challenging to treat.”

Determined to raise awareness, Kailah formed a Walk MS team six years ago in honor of her mother, Gail Espinosa Pflugbeil. Unrelenting in their resolve to be seen and heard, each year members design a tee shirt based on Gail’s favorite colors: lime green, MS orange and teal. The team has grown over the years, last year boasting 20 members. This year, members are adding to their ranks yet again with 10 new participants.

“Everyone knows about cancer,” said Kailah, who works as an administrative assistant for a local computer store. “I want that same level of awareness for MS. What I want most is for my mom to be well again. We are committed to raising funds to help science move forward toward a cure.”

More than 6,000 residents, like Gail Espinosa Pflugbeil, live with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. Symptoms can include, among other things, numbness and tingling in the extremities, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness in the limbs, and in extreme cases, complete paralysis. There currently is no cure for multiple sclerosis. Funds raised through Connecticut Chapter events, such as Walk MS, ensure ongoing scientific research to find better treatments and a cure. These funds also provide for the continuation of vital programs and services offered by the chapter.

Kailah and her Walk MS team, the Shining Stars, will host the first-ever Shining Stars For MS Boutique Shopping Extravaganza Sunday, March 17, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Mohegan Fire Company, in Uncasville. The event will feature more than 25 local merchants and vendors, offering an array of coveted merchandise, fashionable apparel and handcrafted items.

“Each vendor or boutique pays $25 to showcase their goods and all of it goes to the fight against MS,” said Kailah. “Participating vendors will also donate a custom gift basket to the event. Guests can buy tickets for drawings throughout the afternoon.”

Boutiques and vendors include: Premier Designs, Paparazzi, Bonnie Lee’s Jewelry, Mark, Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple, Shannon’s Jammins, Scentsy, Pink Zebra, 31 Gifts, Photos by Cie, Juice Plus, Jubliant Enterprises, South Hill Designs, Baker’s Dozen, Heaven on Wheels, Extreme Cakes, PartyLite, Kate Churma’s Creations, Bethany’s Crafts, FRG, It Works!, Mary Kay, Initials Inc., Avon, Origami Owl and Piefection by Angela.

There is no cost to attend the boutique shopping event. Donations, however, are welcome. Rolling Tomato will be serving their signature brick oven pizza at the event.

The 2013 Walk MS, presented by Travelers, will take place at 12 sites across Connecticut, including Mitchell College in New London Sunday, April 21. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. The walk begins at 9 a.m. Lunch is provided compliments of Subway and Coca-Cola.

Kailah hopes that her first-ever event raises more than $1,000 for MS. For more information on the Shining Stars For MS Boutique Shopping Extravaganza, please email Kailah Pflugbeil at or email Rhonda at For more information about the 2013 Walk MS, presented by Travelers, visit

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