A History of the Hot Flashes MS Walk Team

by Alan D. Legatt, Team Captain

 (last updated February 22, 2021)

In 1999, a group of women (including my good friend and colleague, Dr. Harriet Kang) who liked to do walking and running races were sitting around and talking after a race, and decided to form a team. One of the other women in the group commented that they were all of a similar age and said, "We should call ourselves the 'Hot Flashes'." Harriet said, "That's a great idea!" The other lady said, "I was just kidding," to which Harriet responded, "But I'm not". And thus the team was born. They subsequently added two men (of which I was one), and in 1999 four of us walked the Yonkers Half-Marathon and then the New York City Marathon (26.2 miles in 7 hours, 54 minutes, in case you're interested). We made T-shirts with the "Hot Flashes" name on them, and got wonderful reactions from the crowd. I've posted a photograph from the Marathon on one of the Photo Gallery pages.

When you do the New York City Marathon, you get on the mailing list of the New York Road Runners Club, and many charitable organizations ask you to do a walk or a run as a fundraiser for them. I decided that I would do this but also decided that I had to pick one cause  I could see asking people to sponsor me once a year, but if I did so multiple times a year then they might start walking the other way when they saw me. While I was still thinking about which cause to work for, I saw a flyer about the MS Walk in Rye, New York, a fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I decided to do this because my aunt has multiple sclerosis, and is in a wheelchair because of it. I asked the rest of the Hot Flashes to join me, and the four of us who had walked the New York City Marathon did the Rye MS Walk in April of 2000. Since then, Harriet has been the captain of the Hot Flashes for the long-distance races, and I have been the team captain for the MS Walk Hot Flashes team (these are separate but overlapping groups). I am happy to report that the MS Walk Hot Flashes team has expanded far beyond the group of people who do the long-distance races.

The Hot Flashes team in the 2001 MS Walk consisted of 12 people. In early 2002, another member of my family was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This showed that my choice of the MS Society as the charitable cause to which I would devote my efforts was "bashert" (which means "it was meant to be"), and made me try even harder to expand the team. In 2002 and again in 2003, the Hot Flashes team had over 50 members, and we made the top-ten list (for the amount of money raised by a team) of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Southern New York (MSSSNY) in both years. The team has continued to grow: In 2004, we had 133 team members and raised over $16,000 for research, treatment, and support services to help people with multiple sclerosis, making us the # 4 fundraising team for the MSSSNY; we also ranked # 145 in the country. In 2005, we had over 200 team members and raised over $30,000, moving up to # 3 in the MSSSNY list, and # 51 nationally. In 2006, we had over 300 team members and raised $76,850, making us the top fundraising MS Walk team in the MSSSNY. We also made the top-ten list nationally  we were # 8 out of approximately 12,000 teams in the entire country!

The Westchester Journal News published an article about Hot Flashes team captain Dr. Alan Legatt on the morning of the 2007 MS Walk. Click Here to see that article.

Our size (number of team members) and amount raised were somewhat lower in the next few years -- 2006 was clearly our best year so far -- though we have remained the largest MS Walk team in the MSSSNY from 2006 through 2009, and in 3 of those 4 years we have also been the #1 fundraising team. Beginning in 2007, several members of the Hot Flashes team did the MS Walk at Bear Mountain State Park each year; thus, we were represented at two of the five MS Walks that were held by the MSSSNY.

The New York City and Southern New York chapters of the National MS Society merged prior to the 2010 MS Walks, and in 2010 the Hot Flashes team also had a small contingent at the Manhattan (South Street Seaport) MS Walk, as well as a small 
contingent at Bear Mountain and a large contingent at Rye Playland. The MS Society also decided that all of the MS Walks would occur on the same weekend, which meant that two of the Walks in which the Hot Flashes participated were on the same day. Since I couldn't be at two walk sites simultaneously, Tom Borkowski served as co-captain for the South Street Seaport Walk site. Thanks, Tom!

And the results for 2010? 
There were Manhattan teams that were larger and that raised more money than we did, but we were still the #1 team in the former MSSSNY region. The Westchester Journal News article about the 2010 Rye Playland MS Walk included interviews with Hot Flashes team member Patricia Hamilton and with team captain Dr. Alan Legatt. Click Here to see that article.

There were a few changes in 2011. The Manhattan/South Street Seaport MS Walk was moved from Sunday to Saturday (for this year only, because 
New York City's 5-Borough Bike Ride was on the Sunday of that weekend), and the other two MS Walks in which we participated moved to new locations: The Westchester County MS Walk was moved from Rye Playland to the SUNY Purchase campus, and the Rockland County MS Walk was moved from Bear Mountain State Park to Rockland Lake State Park. Since there were once again two MS Walks on the same day, John McGinley serves as the co-captain for the Rockland Lake State Park Walk site. Thanks, John! In 2011, we were again the #1 fundraising team in the former MSSSNY region, and the #6 fundraising team overall for the New York City-Southern New York (NYC-SNY) chapter of the National MS Society.

Prior to the 2011 MS Walk, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine ran a story about the Hot Flashes team and about team captain Dr. Alan Legatt, who is both an Einstein alumnus and a member of the Einstein faculty. 
Click Here to see that story.

In 2012 the Manhattan/South Street Seaport MS Walk went back to Sunday, and the Westchester MS Walk moved to the Pace University Campus in Pleasantville. The Rockland MS Walk remained at
Rockland Lake State Park on Saturday. Tom Borkowski once again served as co-captain for the South Street Seaport Walk site. Thanks, Tom!  We were still the #1 fundraising team at the Westchester MS Walk site, and the #7 fundraising team overall for the New York City-Southern New York (NYC-SNY) chapter of the National MS Society.

In her "Donor of the Day" column in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal that was published on the weekend of the 2012 MS Walk, Melanie Grayce West profiled team captain Dr. Alan Legatt. Click Here to see that article.

Since then, the Manhattan MS Walk has moved to Pier 26 in Tribeca, and we have focused our team efforts on the Westchester and Manhattan Walk sites. Subsequently, the group of people who had done the MS Walk at the Manhattan Walk site opted to switch to the Westchester Walk site, which was now Glen Island Park in New Rochelle  So the team returned to its roots - the Westchester County MS Walk..

In 2015, we reached a milestone:  The cumulative team fundraising total for the Hot Flashes team, since its beginning in April of 2000, went over half-a-million dollars!

In 2020, the in-person Westchester MS Walk was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. F
or several years, the MS Society had been allowing people to participate as "Virtual Walkers"  if they couldn't be present phuysically at the Walk Site. In 2020, we were all Virtual Walkers! In the midst of the pandemic, it's not surprising that fundraising totals were down across the board. However, what we did raise in 2020 brought the cumulative team fundraising total for the Hot Flashes team to over $670,000 - more than two thirds of the way to a million dollars!

COVID was still very much present in 2021 and 2022, but our annual fundraising increased each year. It was wonderful to participate in an in-person MS Walk again in 2022, at which time ourr cumulative team fundraising total went over $700,000.

Now, in 2023, the Hot Flashes team will be participating in the MS Walk for the 24th consecutive year. 
Please Join Us this year and make it our biggest year yet!


Image from the team T-shirt

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The Hot Flashes participate in
MS Walks organized by the:
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