- Associated Press - Sunday, March 23, 2014

ALCOA, Tenn. (AP) - 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.”

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