MS Fest / MS'issippi Walk-n-Roll! hopes to reach $100k with Sept. 16 event

Sep. 4—CLINTON — This year's MS Fest/MS'issippi Walk-n-Roll! will be held Saturday, Sept. 16, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Riverview Bandshell.

The event is hosted by the Clinton MS Support Group and The Bob Finch Memorial Fund.

"In 2010, I learned that Bob Finch, a good friend who played in bands with me, was in a nursing home because of his MS," Finch Fund board member and stand-up bass player for the Unidynes Dave Layton recalls. "He battled to stay independent for decades."

Finch was diagnosed with MS during the 1980s, Layton says, and had to give up playing music. Layton, though, started having other musicians come on a regular basis to play for Finch and others at the nursing home, one of them being Greg Fier.

Fier, also diagnosed with MS, would visit with Finch and talk with him about technology that could make his life more enjoyable there.

"Greg worked to get him equipment that could turn on his TV for him and his stereo," Layton says. "Also, we bought a computer that could be operated hands-free, and so this helped him a lot in the final years, but not as much as if he would have had access to all of this technology at an earlier time."

Finch died in 2017.

"At the funeral," Layton says, "we got together with his sister Kathy and niece Jenna and talked about having a non-profit that could help keep people with multiple sclerosis independent."

Founded in 2018, The Bob Finch Memorial Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, provides resources for local people diagnosed with MS to help them afford home modifications, adaptive equipment, and assistive technologies designed to help maintain independence and quality of life.

Its board currently consists of Layton and Fier along with Mary Rupp, Tami Leavens, and Paul Mangin.

The Finch Fund has awarded 33 grants since the organization's inception, collectively totaling over $81,000. This year, though, Layton says they hope to surpass $100,000 in total generated funds.

Registration for the MS'issippi Walk-n-Roll 5k/3k walk will begin Sept. 16 at 9 a.m. Snacks and live music by Dan Peart will also be available at that time.

Benefiting the National MS Society-Upper Midwest Chapter, the walk will begin at 10 a.m. at the Bandshell where it also ends. Singer and songwriter Lee Dohse is planned to perform for walkers on the course extending along the Mississippi River and Discovery Trail.

The National MS Society-Upper Midwest Chapter promotes awareness and education and provides advocacy and direct support for people diagnosed with MS. The MS'issippi Walk-n-Roll has donated in excess of $40,000 since 2015.

Brooke Byam and the Daymakers are scheduled to perform at the Bandshell at 11 a.m., followed by Todd Striley and the Noize at 12:20 p.m., Staff Infection at 1:40 p.m., and Iowa Rock 'n Roll Hall of Famers The Unidynes at 3 p.m.

Also included throughout the day are food vendors, a bouncy house, the Jan Ottens Memorial Silent Auction, Twinky the Balloon Twister, animals from Midwest Pets For Life, JC's beer garden, a bags tournament, and a classic car drive-in.

The National MS Society estimates that over 2.8 million people worldwide have MS. According to the Mayo Clinic, although treatments can help speed recovery from attacks, modify the course of the disease, and manage symptoms, there is no cure for the disease.

"Greg is showing me possibilities of what can change people's lives," Layton says. "Simple things, may even like computer technology or a chairlift, or more complex things such as an entire remodeling of a bathroom. It's been an honor working with Greg, and it's exciting seeing how much he accomplishes, and it's exciting being a part of that accomplishment."

Walk registration can be completed at the start of the event or beforehand online at https://events/

For other information, visit the MS Fest Facebook page at