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Multiple sclerosis fundraiser in Bowmanville shut down by Durham Health

Since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis three years ago, a young Durham woman has raised thousands of dollars for research.

Due to the pandemic, Shelby Renkiewicz has had to get creative in her fundraising efforts but the one she had planned for this weekend was shut down by the health department.

The 29-year-old has tried to make a difference and has raised over $44,000 through MS walks and other fundraisers.

Walking means more to Renkiewicz than just putting one foot in front of the other.

“It’s unpredictable, I have my good days and my bad days. A lot of people can’t see it, and I get the numbness and tingling in my extremities and a lot is spinal cord-related,” said Renkiewicz.

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“In my lifetime I would like to raise enough money to find a cure for MS.”

She’s been trying to do safe, contactless fundraising since the pandemic started. The latest included almost 500 dozen donuts and raising $1,600.

“I did my first Krispy Kreme fundraiser this year, April 17. It was amazing, it was contactless, it was drive-thru. We just placed donuts in people’s trunks or the backseat; money was already dealt with ahead of time,” said Renkiewicz.

However, she says she hit a snag.

Someone reported her to the Durham Health Department and her second Krispy Kreme fundraiser scheduled for Saturday was shut down.

“It’s not a gathering, it’s simply just like going to Tim Hortons or anywhere else ordering a dozen of donuts,” said Renkiewicz.

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Durham Health says during this time, organized public events are not permitted — including drive-thru events — to help reduce community transmission of COVID-19. They say once the stay-at-home order is lifted, it’s willing to work with public event organizers to review their proposals.

Renkiewicz has been a top fundraiser for the MS Society of Canada.

Becky Mitts, the organization’s community fundraising senior director, says she feels for Renkiewicz but is encouraged by how involved she remains.

“I’m just incredibly moved by how resilient Shelby is, she just keeps at it and regardless of this situation. I just think the past 15 months have been tremendously more difficult,” said Mitts.

As for Renkiewicz, she’s not sure when the Krispy Kreme fundraiser will be able to go ahead but she says she will start planning once the stay-at-home order is lifted.

“I’m just trying to raise money for MS,” said Renkiewicz.

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