Local Man's Study of M.S. Gets Researchers' Attention



By Faye Hoffman

M.S. is a disease that affects 400,000 Americans. Doctors still don't know what causes it, but one Magic Valley man has an idea, nuclear fallout.

Fred Trenkle is best known for his success on the basketball court. He's one of the best coaches the College of Southern Idaho has seen. But now, he's playing a game he may never win.

“It’s kind of like in basketball,” he says. “If you're a summer–league coach and you win 50 games, no one really cares until someone wins 50 games on the high school or college–level, you know, the documentation of the upper level.”

Trenkle's been documenting the prevalence of multiple sclerosis in the Magic Valley.
But he can't score any answers without a scientist to assist him.

“If this cluster is correct, and he’s right, it would be a world-record for rates of M.S.” says Doctor Arthur Vandenbark, a professor and research scientist who studies M.S.

Vandenbark came home to Twin Falls last summer for a class reunion, and learned of Trenkle's work. Now he plans on studying it.

“I’ll be working with Fred Trenkle and Dr. Rickards to try to collect the diagnoses of patients in the cluster…and my colleague will review the records and make a determination,” he says.

Later, Vandenbark will try to figure out why so many Magic Valley residents have M.S.

If answers lie in the effects of nuclear fallout, he hopes local M.S. patients will one day be compensated, as many other downwinders have been.

Trenkle says he isn't interested in the money, “Is it going to change my wife and I's life? For 35 years we've lived with M.S. And we've struggled all the way through.”

Trenkle and his wife have learned to cope. Their concern now is for the next generation.

Nita Trenkle says, “I don't want my children or my grandchildren or their friends to be affected by this…if it's something that can be stopped, then we should.”

Fred Trenkle is still registering people. If you lived in the Magic Valley between 1950 and 1970 and have M.S., or know someone who does, give him a call.