Country artist Clay Walker is opening up about his personal battle against multiple sclerosis (MS) to help others living with the disease and to assist in finding a cure. Walker has founded the Band A

Country artist Clay Walker is opening up about his personal battle against multiple sclerosis (MS) to help others living with the disease and to assist in finding a cure. Walker has founded the Band Against MS Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to making information available about living with MS, and to providing funding for research and MS programs.

"Living with MS hasn't been easy, but I feel blessed to continue to be so healthy," Walker said in a statement. "I know not everyone who is diagnosed with MS is as lucky as I am. Maybe by being more public about how I cope will inspire others and help raise money to find a cure for this disease. The Band Against MS Foundation is an extension of those goals."

Some funds for the foundation will come through the sale of Band Against MS merchandise on Walker's upcoming tour. The artist, who was diagnosed with the disease in 1996 at age 26, also hopes to tap into the entertainment industry to help spread the word.

"There is real hope that with additional funding and research we can eliminate MS in my lifetime," Walker said. "Through the Band Against MS Foundation, I plan to lead that charge and encourage others to join me in this fight."

Currently Walker only has a handful of tour dates on his schedule, including a March 6 performance at Reliant Stadium as part of Texas' annual RodeoHouston event. In late June, he's slated to take part in the four-day Country Jam USA festival in Grand Junction, Colo.

A more extensive tour schedule is expected to come in support of his next, as-yet-unnamed album, due this summer through RCA. Led by the single "Everybody Needs Love" in April, the set will be his first for the label after seven released through Warner's Giant imprint. His last non-holiday album, 2001's "Say No More," debuted at No. 14 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart. 2002's "Christmas" reached No. 54 on that tally.

Throughout his career, Walker has scored 19 top-20 singles on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. Six of those have reached No. 1, including "Live Until I Die," "What's It To You," and "Rumor Has It."

More information about the Band Against MS Foundation can be found on the organization's Web site or by calling 800-728-8051.

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