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Heisel to promote MS walk at June 25 pageant

Photo provided Jessica (Kingsley) Heisel, Miss Wadena 2002, will be promoting the Twin Cities MS walk at this year's pageant.

Miss Wadena 2002, Jessica (Kingsley) Heisel, will be a special guest at the June 25 pageant promoting a cause.

Heisel, who has multiple sclerosis, is involved in the Minnesota chapter of the MS Society and plans to participate in the Twin Cities MS Challenge Walk on September 23-25.

"I will be speaking at the pageant. I will also have one of my team members there, and we'll be selling bracelets to show support," she said. "MS is a very important cause because there is no cure, and we don't even know really how a lot of the treatments work, and that touches a lot of people up in the Midwest."

Heisel, who graduated from Wadena-Deer Creek High School that same year, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in August 2010 after experiencing facial numbness and double vision. When she lost vision in her right eye four years prior, doctors had suspected MS.

Heisel is a graduate of Bemidji State University where she got her degree in biology with a minor in biochemistry. She is married to David Heisel. After a stint in grad school in Washington, D.C., she returned to Minnesota. She is a water quality analyst with the Metropolitan Council, and continues to be active in the Wadena community even though she lives in the Twin Cities.

In her letter for support, Heisel said that if not for her insurance, she would have to pay $4,000 a month for daily injections of a drug to slow the progress of the disease.

"My goal is to raise half that amount. $2,000 is only a drop on the financial bucket of an MS patient's lifetime medical expenses, but it will go miles and miles in the race for a cure," she wrote.

Donations to walkers can be made by looking up the team name or individual participant's name at

"I'd encourage anyone not just to donate to myself, but to any of the other members on my team, because we're all in it together to raise some money," she said.

The other members of the team, Keep On Smyelin!, are Mallory Lamberson, Laura Clendenin and Elizabeth Rude.

Heisel's letter said that over 10,000 people suffer from MS in Minnesota and Wisconsin alone.

"It's truly strange. The farther you are from the equator, the more likely you are to get it," she said.

Heisel said the range of diagnosis is from age 10 to 50, and women are three times more likely to have it than men. There is no known definitive cause of multiple sclerosis.