Valarie Brunjes, 36, smiles as she recalls her experience with Can Do Multiple Sclerosis.
“It hits me in the heart and leaves me speechless.”
Her eyes widen as she breaks into an easy laugh. Val admits she’s rarely at a loss for words. She glances to the wheelchair she’s used for the last three years.
“It’s hard to explain. It’s overwhelming. I mean, I walked. I walked!”
Val’s story with multiple sclerosis began 10 years ago, when the cries of her newborn daughter woke her from a deep sleep. Val’s legs were numb. Always an active person, she thought she’d tweaked something.
But the numbness didn’t go away. Within a few months, her diagnosis was definitive: Val had MS. Her daughter was six months old. Some might say it was bad timing. Val calls it a blessing. If she hadn’t been diagnosed, Val says she would have rushed back to work. She can’t imagine how much she would have missed.
“For the first time I could remember, I had time. Time to be present and to watch my daughter grow. Not many people can say that.”
Over the last year, Val attended two programs led by Can Do MS.
“Can Do MS changed my life.”
Can Do MS brings together world-renowned neurologists, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, psychologists and occupational and physical therapists. People living with MS and their support partners receive undivided and individualized attention from more than one expert who knows what it takes to thrive with MS.
Our founder, Olympic skier Jimmie Heuga, understood the importance of treating the whole person—body, mind and spirit. And, he understood why we should support the families and friends whose lives change when their loved ones receive this diagnosis.
Next year will mark the 30th Anniversary of Can Do MS. Jimmie didn’t face his own diagnosis thinking about what he couldn’t do. His motto was to focus on what you can do.
Your donation helps us provide individualized, “perfect” healthcare.
The waiting lists for our programs grow each year for one reason alone: they dramatically improve lives. When MS patients like Val spend more days enjoying life and less time lost in complex medical care systems, everyone wins.
Recently, Val worked with an exercise therapist at a CAN DO® Program. When they moved toward the pool, Val was just excited about getting out of her chair and enjoying the water. What happened next shocked her.
Val walked—for the first time in three years.
“I’m not overly emotional. But the burst of energy I got while walking was so intense and complex. I was excited, amazed—even sad that it had been so long since I walked. I never expected it. My Can Do MS therapist was magical.”
Since being introduced to Can Do MS, Val has a plan that’s unique to her and her circumstances. Today, she knows that a little self-care goes a long way. She practices standing up, using her washing machine for support. She strives to do a little better each day, just as she learned in the program.
Can Do MS changed her outlook on everything. Val laughs as she describes how this different mindset has made even her messy basement feel manageable.
“I’ve ignored my basement for years because it was overwhelming. But now I know: I can do it! I just need to take it one box at a time.”
Your donation to Can Do MS supports programs that are based on science with proven results. With your support, we can give people living with MS the tools they need to improve their lives. Together, we’ll build a community of people like Val, who remind us how far the can do spirit and a sense of humor can take a person.
Val flashes a smile. She’s always upbeat, but in this moment, there’s something more.
“Can Do MS gave me back some big pieces of life that I thought I had lost.”
Can Do MS knows that an overwhelming number of people could benefit from our programs. But like Val, until there’s a cure, we’ll give people the tools to manage it “one box at a time.”
Celebrate 30 years by helping us move people off of our waiting lists and into our programs. Every dollar counts. Please, donate today.
Happy holidays to you and your family.
Heidi A. Heltzel, President & CEO