BY CARLI TEPROFF
Jose Rivas first realized something was wrong when he was sitting at his desk and suddenly felt as if he were falling.
Then, some time later, he started having moments when he would be reading but couldn't make out the words.
``It was a feeling I can't even describe,'' said Rivas, now 47.
The Coral Gables resident and financial advisor began seeing doctors. After 10 years, dozens of tests and a lot of patience, Rivas was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease that interferes with communication between the brain and various parts of the body.
Rather than giving in to what could be a debilitating disease, Rivas said he wanted to take control of his health by staying in top physical shape.
So he turned to long-distance running.
Now, five-years later, Rivas will be running in the ING Miami Marathon on Sunday to raise money for the MS Society, to help doctors search for a cure for the ``terrible disease.''
``As soon as I was diagnosed I immediately became involved in the MS Society,'' said Rivas, who acknowledges his fears of one day ending up in a wheelchair. ``There is a lot of suffering out there.''
Rivas plans on running a half marathon, or 13.1 miles, in Sunday's race, which will draw about 18,000 participants -- many of whom are raising money for a variety of charities. The race begins at the AmericanAirlines Arena and takes runners over the MacArthur Causeway to South Beach, through the Venetian Islands, downtown Miami and Coconut Grove, and finishes at Bayfront Park.
``The race itself serves as a vehicle for charities to raise money for a number of causes,'' said Frankie Ruiz, co-founder of the ING Miami Marathon. ``There is a lot of money that is going to be raised as a result of the race.''
Rivas and his team of about 30 runners set a goal of $50,000. Rivas said they have already raised more than $40,000. Most of his teammates are relatives of people with MS.