By KYW community affairs reporter Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The youngest of six kids, Ann Rejrat loves her big sister Krystyna.
“She was who I used to share a room with,” Ann recalls. “She was who, when I got scared, I used to go to her bed.”
Then, during her senior year in high school in Scranton, Pa., Ann says, Krystyna was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Ann says it was devastating to see the impact of the disease on her sister:
“Within just a few months, her health deteriorated so fast, she couldn’t walk, she couldn’t eat anything, she was on a feeding tube.”
Krystyna has since seen her condition stabilize, graduated from Temple University, and is receiving a treatment that slows the progression of the disease.
Today, Ann Rejrat says, Krystyna runs marathons and travels, keeping a positive attitude. She calls her sister “an inspiration.”
“She never lets MS limit what she can do,” says Ann, 25, who followed her sister to Temple University. And last year she was inspired to take action.
“I realized my sister’s story isn’t unique,” she said. “There’s a lot of people out there who need help.”
An avid swimmer and instructor, Ann decided to use her love of the water to raise money. This future journalist held the first “Swim for MS” fundraiser at Pearson Hall, on Temple’s campus. She says volunteers in the Temple recreation center set and met swimming goals in exchange for donations:
“Some are swimming a certain amount of laps, some people are getting back in the pool when they haven’t.”
That modest group of volunteers raised $2,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. And this year, they’re hoping to more than double that effort, setting their sights on a $5,000 fundraising goal.
“Whenever I talk about it and I get people offering to help and come out and support it, I get emotional,” Rejrat says, noting that 20 volunteers have signed up for this year’s effort. “I’m doing this because I love my sister, and this just gives me the chance to help her and people like her.”
Rejrat and her volunteers will take to the pool on March 18th, at Pearson Hall, at Broad and Montgomery. To donate, go to support.mymsaa.org/goto/templecrec.
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