Johnson City Press Monday, September 1, 2014
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East Tennessee 10-year-old with MS forms team to fight disease

March 23rd, 2014 12:14 pm by MELANIE TUCKER, The Daily Times (AP)

East Tennessee 10-year-old with MS forms team to fight disease

ALCOA — Matthew Tieng doesn't do small.

It will take a huge effort by the 10-year-old boy to beat his fundraising total from last year's Walk MS.

Tieng, the son of Dr. Edward Tieng who practices in Alcoa, set his goal at $3,000 last year for the walk. In the end, he raised an unprecedented $11,652, all thanks to 80 family and friends.

This year, he hopes to surpass that, with $15,000.

Matthew has a personal reason for being so passionate about the cause. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was only 8. This will be his third Walk MS.

The fifth-grader, who attends Webb School, has a fundraiser set here in Blount County on Thursday. Hungry patrons who come to Papa Murphy's on U.S. Highway 411 South in Maryville between 4 and 7 p.m. can do their part for Matthew. Twenty percent of the proceeds will be donated to Team Matthew.

He's doing well on his medication, which he takes in a weekly shot.

"He's not had any relapses for a year now," said mom Cherylene.

Matthew enjoys swimming year-round and he just recently finished up play in a basketball league. He said those have been two favorite activities. For now, he's putting his focus on recruiting team members for Walk MS and raising money for the National MS Society.

His team captain is Jeanie Green, who works in Dr. Tieng's office at Tennessee Urology Associates. She said the event at Papa Murphy's in Maryville will include a T-shirt giveaway and the selling of note cards donated by Townsend artist Fred Weiser.

"I would like to raise $25,000," Green said. She said half of the money raised at the walk goes to research to find a cure; the other half goes to patient care.

Matthew held a Papa Murphy's fundraiser last year in Knoxville but moved it here for 2014. He is hoping to encourage Blount County to get involved in the effort.

He's not sure about how large his team will be this year. Some of his classmates have a conflict with the date of the walk, May 3. But that isn't getting in the way of this fifth-grader's determination to succeed.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. He has the relapsing, remitting form of MS. It attacks the brain tissue and spinal cord, resulting in damage of the nerves.

It is unusual, Cherylene said, for children as young as Matthew to be diagnosed. "Most people are diagnosed in their 20s," she said. "Matthew might be the youngest in the Knoxville area."

The diagnosis came in 2012 when Matthew's left side was weak and numb. He was taken to the emergency room where doctors found lesions on his brain. He remained in the hospital for a week as they reduced the swelling.

After months of treating Matthew, he was sent to a center in Birmingham, Ala. That is where the MS was confirmed.

Just days after he was diagnosed, Matthew and his mom went to the Walk MS. This one in 2014 will be his third.

Matthew is the youngest of three children. His brother, sister and parents will be walking at the May 3 event. Matthew said he will be at the Papa Murphy's fundraiser here in Maryville on March 27. Team captain Green will be there as well.

When asked if he was confident he could meet his goal, Matthew said it will take some work but he thinks he can do it.

Aside from the pizza fundraiser, people can donate online through www.teammatthewbeatms.com. Or they can join the team and walk.

It makes you feel good to see all of the people who came out in support of Matthew, his mom said.

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