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Resilience Prevails on MS4MS Hikes

“When the doctor said those two words – ‘multiple sclerosis’ – I just wanted to collapse.”

Elizabeth Persons has a story that’s familiar to many – an MS diagnosis came out of the blue, interrupting her life and filling her future with questions and unknowns.

“I came to Colorado for biking and running and hiking and all the outdoor things that people come here for,” says Persons. “I was living a Colorado lifestyle up until I heard those two words.”

Elizabeth Persons with the MS Center’s Dr. John Corboy at the summit of Pike’s Peak.

Persons, like many, first thought an MS diagnosis was the end of her active lifestyle. “I had a couple months of just not being able to keep up with my friends at hiking, losing my job… my life was 180 (degrees) different than what I thought it was going to be at that point.”

But resilience prevailed. Persons found a new job that allowed her the flexibility to continue working with MS, and she soon realized she didn’t have to stop doing the other things she loved – she just might have to do them a little differently than before.  “Hiking with MS is a very different experience than before hiking with MS,” says Persons. “It’s true the summit looks the same, the view looks the same, but the experience is not the same.”

Even without MS, reaching the summit of a 14er is no easy feat. “Before, it was a struggle to get to the top. Climbing mountains is not easy, but I would be focused on time, and if I didn’t get up quick enough it was disappointing,” says Persons. “Now, if it takes me all day to get up and all day to get down, that’s fine.”

Persons joined the Rocky Mountain MS Center’s Multiple Summits for Multiple Sclerosis campaign several years ago, and has hiked for MS4MS every summer since. “I feel so much more pride when I go up, because I feel like, I’m still doing this. My leg is maybe numb and I may want to sit down, but I’m able to do this despite the MS.”

The past two years, she’s joined the RMMSC team and hiked with members of her own medical team – to Pike’s Peak in 2015 and Mt. Bierstadt last summer. “The past two years with MS4MS, I’ve beaten Dr. Corboy up to the top of the summit,” she says.

With MS4MS, your hike doesn’t have to be one of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. “The goal is to climb a mountain, and the mountain is not necessarily literal,” says Persons. “You can climb a 14er or you can walk 14,000 steps and have that be your ‘14er’.”

MS4MS registration is ongoing through the end of August. Read on for information on how you can get started.


Get started by heading to http://mscenter.org/summits and choosing what’s right for you:

  • Register: Click “Register” to sign up, create a fundraising page, and make plans to head out on your own hike. You can keep your hike private, or get involved with a team. On your personal fundraising page, you can take a few minutes to tell people why you’re participating and some details about the personal summit you’re tackling. Email and social media tools will help you spread the word to your contacts and ask them to support you.
  • Form a Team: If you’d like to organize a hike and invite others to join you, you can be the Captain of your own team. You’ll get all the tools needed to manage your own personal fundraising page, plus some new features to help recruit and manage your team easily. You’ll also be able to manage a team page where you can spread the details about your hike, as well as some handy features to help you recruit team members via email.
  • Join a Team: If you already know a friend who’s formed a team, you can quickly and easily join them. If not, you can search a list of teams to find those that are open to the public, and hike with a group. You’ll still get your own personal fundraising page to help with your own efforts.
  • Donate: If hiking’s not your thing, you can still support MS4MS! You can search for a friend or relative and donate on their page, locate a team and support their efforts, or make a general donation to the MS4MS campaign.

All registrants will receive an MS4MS t-shirt to wear on their hike. Team Captains will also get an MS4MS Summit Flag to bring with them on their hike.

Whether you head to the top of a Fourteener, or just a trek around a local park, take your camera! We would love to see pictures of your MS4MS efforts. Post them to social media and tag @MS4MS, or email them to publishing@mscenter.org.


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