Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Can Do Day Story - A guest blog from our partner, Can Do MS

In honor of CAN DO DAY, our partner Can Do MS, wanted to share a story on our blog. Can Do Day is all about living big and focusing on what you can do. Get inspired and make a pledge about what YOU can do this September 22nd!

"We were relieved to finally have a diagnosis..."
Amy Sleeper

Most of us spend our childhoods believing that our parents are superheroes – that they’re indestructible, can do anything they want, and can save our lives simply by putting a Band-Aid on a scrape. This belief often disappears quickly as we grow up. Unfortunately for some of us, it disappears for a much different reason. Amy Sleeper’s dad David was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was a junior in high school, even though he had been suffering from its debilitating symptoms for years before that. Within a year, he went from being one of the top finishers in his age group during a local mountain-bike race, to struggling to finish it. He endured years of doctors’ visits, being told that nothing was wrong with him, that he was just getting older. Finally, the doctors diagnosed him with MS. 

“We were relieved to finally have a diagnosis, and although it wasn’t something that I went around telling everyone, it wasn’t something that I ever lied about or hid from anyone who was curious. When I went off to college, I even came home for Thanksgiving with a brand new tattoo – the MS awareness ribbon!” Amy said.

In 2012 David learned about the flagship four-day CAN DO® Program in Denver, CO, and invited Amy to join him as his support partner. Already an active volunteer at the Can Do MS office, Amy participated in this life-changing program and began spreading her can do spirit as a daughter, support partner, and humble advocate for Can Do MS. 

“Since the program, I’ve met a handful of young adults just like me whose parents are living with MS. I take the time to explain how amazing my experience was at the program and let them know about all the resources Can Do MS offers. It’s my way of spreading the can do philosophy.”

Can Do Day is all about sharing that philosophy! It was created to honor Can Do MS founder Jimmie Heuga (1943-2010) on his birthday and to raise awareness for MS. During September supporters are encouraged to share their pledge on our Facebook page of what they can do on Jimmie’s birthday. On September 22nd, they post a picture of what they are doing to help spread the can do spirit.

Amy’s pledge is inspired by her father as well as her experience at the program.

“I left the program with a new appreciation for life and the realization that even though I may feel indestructible at 25, I could lose that feeling for a number of reasons. I have always tried to live my life to the fullest, but this program and all of the amazing people I met have taught me to take nothing for granted. I see my dad in a new way – I admire him every day for the strength he puts forward to accomplish all of his goals, and I only hope that I can grow up to be as strong as he is.”

Amy’s pledge starts by participating in a five-mile mud run on September 21st. On Can Do Day, Amy is going to spend the day raising awareness for MS and our programs by sharing her new appreciation for life through email and social media. Most importantly, Amy is going to spend quality time with her Dad over the phone to let him know how much she loves him and that his strength is her source of inspiration.

Join Amy on Can Do Day, September 22nd, to make your own Can Do Day pledge! Help honor Jimmie Heuga on his birthday by sharing your can do spirit with your friends and family by raising awareness for MS. Visit the Can Do MS Facebook page today to share your pledge!

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