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People with MS "Can Do"


It was unseasonably warm at Hunter Mountain on Saturday, but despite the warm weather, many skiers and others came to the mountain to do their part to help people with multiple sclerosis.

Hunter Mountain held a national event series called Vertical Express for Can Do MS. According to the organization's website, Can Do MS is a national organization that provides comprehensive programs that empower people with multiple sclerosis, or MS.

Multiple sclerosis involves an abnormal response of the body's immune system and is directed against the central nervous system. It causes problems with vision, balance, muscle control and other basic body functions. The cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown.

There are no national statistics, but the National MS Society estimates that 2.3 million people have the condition worldwide.

The founder of Can Do for MS, Jimmie Heuga, who was one of the first Americans to win an Olympic medal in slalom in 1964. Shortly after the win, Heuga was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The Vertical Express started in 1985. Hunter Mountain has not hosted the event in nearly 20 years, according to Becca Aliber, director of development at Can Do MS.

According to Aliber, the event series does very well on the West Coast, “but last year the East Coast raised more.”

This year, the Vertical Express will be going to six other locations. It has already been held at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire and Norway Mountain in Michigan. The other events will be held on the West Coast, including Washington, California, Colorado and Idaho.

The activities to accompany the event included an amateur ski race known as the Vertical Express Cup and the Jimmie Heuga Memorial Ski Down, which took place on top of the Catskill Firelift.

The series is seeking to raise $250,000 nationwide.

The event at Hunter Mountain also had scavenger hunts and obstacles throughout the day.

Jeanette Iuzzolino, of Rachburgh, NJ, volunteered for the event. She has multiple sclerosis and enjoys skiing. In order to ski, she has to use special poles.

Better known as adaptive skiing, there are ski resorts that provide special poles and equipment for people with special needs. Hunter Mountain does not currently provide accommodations for people with multiple sclerosis.

Gunter Spilhaus, events manager for Hunter Mountain, said, “[Hunter Mountain] was very excited to help a great cause. Whatever we can do to help.”

The event ended with an awards ceremony for people who participated in the amateur ski run. There were 17 participants of varying ages.

One of the youngest was Annika Maclary, 6, from Saugerties. Her parents, Mike and Sonya Maclary, come to Hunter Mountain every weekend. They were impressed with one event in particular, which involved simulating what it is like for someone with multiple sclerosis, like covering one eye on their goggles and making coordination more difficult on skis.

“I had a work colleague who had MS and that event brought home how difficult it is for people with MS. It brought empathy,” said Sonya Maclary.

Her daughter Annika won the kids’ division of the amateur ski race.

The event brought in people from other parts of the Northeast, like Will Metzger from New York City.

Metzger had bid on a package to Hunter Mountain at a multiple sclerosis benefit in New York City. He knows people with the condition and works with doctors who treat people with multiple sclerosis.

He said, “It's a great cause and setup. One of the things I've admired about people with MS is that instead of talking about surviving, they are talking about thriving. They continue to dance or whatever athletic activity.”

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by THEDAILYMAIL
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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