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Comedian Lenny Clarke shares family battle with MS: VIDEO





Lenny Clarke is famous for his comedy sketches and primetime shows like "Rescue Me." Clarke is now using his celebrity to raise funds and awareness for MS, a disease impacting two of his eight siblings.


"'I said, why is this happen, why is this happening?' We didn't know why. We didn't know anything," Clarke said.

Clarke and brother Mike now know it's MS that's forced their sister, Bernice, into a wheelchair. She's the oldest of the eight Clarke siblings and believes symptoms began in her 20s.

"I had like, an attack where I could take two steps and fall to the side. I walked like and talked like a stroke victim," Bernice Ryan said.

It took three years for Ryan to be diagnosed with MS. Then another sister, Rosemary, received the same news.

"I instantly was going in my mind, just myself, I wonder where this came from?" Ryan said.

The siblings don't think there's a family history. But Dr. Tim Coetzee with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society says it's not a hereditary disease. In fact, researchers still don't know what causes it.

"It's actually quite frustrating that we don't know the cause. But we do know that a person's genetic makeup and where they were born and live do contribute," Coetzee said.

For most people, Coetzee says there's a 1 in 1,000 chance of developing MS. That risk increases by up to 5 percent if a parent or sibling has the disease.

That's one reason the Clarke brothers support Bike MS: Cape Cod Getaway. Lenny will send riders off in June on the 150-mile ride. This year, Mike's team will pass the $1 million dollar mark in total fundraising.

"We only hope that it can help, you know, find a cure, some sort of research to help someone that won't be put in a position like we are with two siblings," Mike Clarke said.

The brothers have lent their support before. They renovated Bernice's kitchen and bathroom to be handicapped-accessible.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by WCVB5ABC
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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