I consider myself very fortunate to be able to live a life of training, competing and coaching others to try to reach their potential. I think it is so important to stop, take a step back and realize how lucky we all are and never hesitate to thank those who support us in the process; as well as give back to as many other causes and organizations as we are able. The following organizations are those that are close to me, for various reasons.
Multiple Sclerosis is the cause that I champion most, as my Aunt Sandy has had MS since she was 28 years old. I know I have not seen a lot of the struggles she has gone through, but her attitude and zest for life and laughter have always been a huge inspiration to me. She and my Uncle Del are extremely supportive of my racing career.
Thank you for taking a moment learning a bit more about the Active MSers & MS Can Do, Back on my Feet, Jenny’s Light, and Shawn’s Anomaly.
This organization was started by Dave Bexfield in 2006. A writer by trade, Dave has also always been an adventure-seeker. Soon after a trip to Vietman and Cambodia in early 2005, his MS symptoms began. Unfortunately his MS happened to be a very aggressive form (that being one which would likely require walking aids within 5 years), but fortunately, Dave and his wife Laura decided to fight it with all they had. Dave started a disease-modifying therapy in March 2006. His story is fascinating. While various therapies failed him, in 2010, he decided to take part in a risky yet aggressive clinical trial, HALT-MS. This four-step trial includes 1) harvesting the patient’s own adult stem cells, 2) clean the stem cells of the T-cells thought to maybe ’cause’ the MS, 3) obliterate the immune system.. wipe it out, reset it… 4) inject the refreshed stem cells back into the body (and then treat with chemotherapy). Since this, his MS has not progressed. He takes no medications daily for MS. He exercises 1.5 hours per day. His goal with this organization is to provide practical information on how to stay active regardless of the devastating effects that MS has on the body, while raising awareness of the both seriousness of MS, but also those who are still extremely active. He hopes to inspire a worldwide community of MSers to stay active. Likewise, HALT-MS may hold a key to stop MS progression and maybe even reverse some disability.
Changing Lives One Mile, Job and House at a Time
Back on My Feet (BoMF) is a national nonprofit organization that uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change in their lives that results in employment and independent living.
The organization’s mission is not to create runners within the homeless population, but to use running to create self-sufficiency in the lives of those experiencing homelessness. The program’s success is measured by how many Members achieve independence through employment and housing.
Through dedication and hard work, Residential Members (those experiencing homelessness) earn the opportunity to create a new road for themselves. Running leads to personal transformation and dedication to the program leads to access to training, employment and housing resources. Through community and corporate support, the program strives to change the perception of homelessness.
Can Do Multiple Sclerosis is a national nonprofit organiazation and is a leading provider of innovative lifestyle empowerment programs for people with MS and their support partners. Leveraging the powerful legacy and principles of former Olympian and organizational founder Jimmy Heuga, Can Do MS has helped thousands of people living with MS reclaim a sense of dignity, control and freedom by empowering them with the knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to transform challenges into possibilities. By focusing on what you can do, their individualized and experiential programs provide a whole new way of thinking about and living with MS. Can Do MS honors the legacy and beliefs of organizational founder, Jimmy Heuga, who embodied a positive, can do philosophy that you can stay well and live well with MS. Recognizing that MS is a family disease, they offer the industry’s most comprehensive range of programs addressing the needs, goals and concerns of support partners and family members. Please consider donating to my Can Do MS Fund to help this cause.
was started in 2008 to improve and save lives by raising awareness of all perinatal disorders, including postpartum depression. Becky Lavelle is a fellow competitor, one who I have always had immense respect for, and she is also twin sister to Jenny, who took her own life along with her newborn son in late 2007. Soon thereafter, Becky and her family started Jenny’s Light. Postpartum depression can happen to anyone (and is not uncommon), and women need to be encouraged to talk about it. Jenny’s Light is crucial in helping to raise awareness and increase knowledge of these types of disorders. Please take a moment to check out this very important organization.
In June of 2009, Shawn was born in Houston, TX. He was born with several urological conditions including multicystic dysplastic kidney and then diagnosed with paten urachus. At 10 days old, he had surgery to repair the leaking from his belly button. During surgery the doctors noticed something they had never before seen, as he was born with a second urethra, as it split near his prostate and exited through his anus. At the moment, they did not know how to cure this problem, a startling fact in this day of modern medicine. At 7 months old, Shawn had an unprecedented surgery to repair his condition. During surgery they also removed cysts where his kidneys should have formed, and at 14 months, he had another surgery to repair a tethered spine. Shawns Anomaly Foundation and the Texas Children’s Hospital have teamed up to help pediatric urology research and raise awareness of this condition as well as any others which may arise in the future.