Robie believes in looking on the bright side. An avid sailor and business executive, Robie always knew this positive attitude was necessary when facing unpredictable situations in uncharted waters.
What he didn’t know was that his optimism would be an essential tool for him down the road. Robie was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1985. The father of three said that the diagnosis changed his life, “I was very active – a sailor, an athlete and motorcycle enthusiast. MS didn’t stop me from doing it all, but I did much less than before. As time passed, I found myself in a wheelchair.”
Robie’s family encouraged him to educate himself about MS and suggested he attend the CAN DO Program. Robie was hesitant at first, attending only because his family bought the airline tickets for he and his wife. At that CAN DO Program in 1987, Robie had another life changing experience.
After four days of assessments, active workshops, goal setting and conversations with others diagnosed with MS, Robie observed that there were 25 people attending the program and all 25 had a different journey ahead of them. “We have a disease called MS, but what I have is not what anyone else has. I learned that this is my MS and I own it.”
An overwhelming aspect of an MS diagnosis is that the person does not know from one day to the next what course the disease will take. Facing this uncertainty and unpredictability is one of the greatest challenges of living with MS. The culmination of the week’s program for each participant is a personalized lifestyle strategy that includes recommendations and ways to seek out and acquire needed resources when returning home. The nearly one to one staff-to-participant ratio guarantees that each person receives personal attention. No where else can you find such knowledge and experience in one place.
After Robie’s experience at the CAN DO Program, he was inspired to give something back. In 1990, he helped organize an adaptive sailing program called Shake-A-Leg Newport. What began as a small therapeutic sailing program now provides adaptive sailing experiences to thousands of individuals with disabilities in the U.S., Europe and Japan.
Now 70, Robie states he has had 25 years of good living since his diagnosis and continues to sail and compete. He is currently the Accessibility Director at Oliver Hazard Perry Education at Sea and is leading the way for accessible design standards in the sailing industry. He thanks his support partners for his success.
“I have a wonderful core group around me. My wife, kids, brothers and personal care attendants. I learned at the CAN DO Program that caretakers also need their own moments in life. I appreciate all that they do.”
Robie continues to learn all he can by attending several of our recent online webinars. The Can Do MS webinar series is an ongoing, informative and accessible program that provides the tools for people with MS and their support partners to actively co-manage their MS and live their best lives.
“The webinars provide good education; nothing in the MS world matches what they accomplish.”
The legacy of our founder, Olympic athlete Jimmie Heuga, lives on in people like Robie. Jimmie’s philosophy taught us that by focusing on what we can do, we are able to live passionately and love life. Join us and ignite your can do spirit by giving what you can today and help individuals discover the power to be more than their MS.