LINCOLN, Neb. -- At first glance, a person would hardly ever notice what Michelle Kruse is truly fighting.
"It's tough trying to tell people that I don't feel well when I look like I'm fine," said Kruse.
She's a mother. She's a wife. And Kruse is one of about 2.3 million people across the world who has Multiple Sclerosis.
"People always say 'I see this ball of energy - you're happy and smiling,'" she said. "It's a front sometimes. I don't want people to see me struggling."
Kruse was diagnosed in 2013. At first, she said, it was a relief. It was proof that there was something wrong and that she wasn't making up her symptoms.
"[The doctor] showed me my brain and said 'You see these white spots all over, it's like sprinkles of cheese all over a pizza.'"
MS isn't a death sentence. Kruse said, on average, it takes about six years off of someone's life. But everyday is a struggle. Kruse's symptoms include rapid muscle fatigue and stiffness, slurred speech, swallowing difficulties, balance issues, loss of feeling in her extremities, and vertigo that she says is constant.
She deals with all those symptoms, while raising three kids and working full time as a recruiter at Ameritas.
"I'm always spinning around a little bit."
The National MS Society defines Multiple Sclerosis as "involving an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system. The CNS is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves."
About 10,000 people are diagnosed with MS every year in the United States. It's why organizations like the National MS Society exist. It raises funds to pay for research to find better treatments, and one day, a cure. In 2018 alone, the National MS Society invested more than $39 million into more than 400 research projects.
Kruse has taken part in Walk MS Lincoln every year since she was diagnosed.
"I'm hopeful that in my lifetime that'll happen," she said. "It can't happen unless people are actually going out there and donating, supporting and helping."
Last year's event raised more than $40,000. It was the largest year-to-year growth rate in the country.
This year's event is May 11 at Holmes Lake Park. Registration starts at 9:00 a.m., followed by the one mile walk, which starts at 10:00 a.m. The goal is to get 400 walkers and raise more than $42,000.
To find out more about Walk MS Lincoln 2019, click here.