“FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN DO.”
~ Jimmie Heuga
Since 1984, Can Do MS, formerly The Jimmie Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis, has been at the forefront of promoting the culture and belief that everyone living with MS has the power to live full lives. Our organization honors the legacy and beliefs of founder Jimmie Heuga, a pioneer in the MS care management field who was diagnosed with MS in 1970. At the time of his diagnosis, and in line with conventional medical wisdom of the time, Jimmie was advised to avoid physical activity to manage his condition and preserve his health. Being the high-caliber athlete and rebelling against his prescribed sedentary lifestyle, Jimmie began developing his own program of exercise, nutrition and mental motivation to improve his physical condition and outlook on life with MS.
Jimmie Heuga wins the Olympic bronze medal in the slalom at the Innsbruck 1964 Olympic Winter Games . Jimmie Heuga and Billy Kidd were the first American men to stand on an Olympic podium holding an alpine ski medal.
Jimmie Heuga was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of 26 in 1970 at the peak of his skiing career.
Jimmie founded The Jimmie Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis. He wanted to create a health program that gives people with MS a sense of direction to enable them to recapture their self-esteem, self-image, self-confidence, sense of well-being and health.
The Snow Express for MS — the prelude to the Vertical Express for MS — Ski for MS began in 1985, when skiing Olympian Jimmie Heuga and ten others set a world record, skiing one million vertical feet during 24 hours in Alyeska, Alaska. This event raised the seed money to start Can Do MS. In May, 1985, friends and associates organized the first Snow Express for MS, a massive fundraiser in Alyeska, Alaska. The ski marathon raised $250,000 in seed money to start the organization.
The first CAN DO Program launched. The curriculum was based on Jimmie’s fitness and wellness program he started when he was first diagnosed with MS in the 1970s. Jimmie tapped the goal-setting skills he learned from his Olympic skiing career and built a program of physical activity, goal-setting and psychological motivation that improved his physical condition and outlook on life and MS.
Science has caught up with Jimmie Heuga. A landmark study, published in 1996 and funded partially by the Heuga Center, found that individuals with MS who exercised for 40 minutes three times a week fared better on a variety of physiological and psychological measures than those who did not exercise. “Patients with MS should be encouraged to engage in regular aerobic exercise,” the researchers wrote in the Annals of Neurology.
Jimmie Heuga was inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.
On Monday, February 8, 2010 our founder Jimmie Heuga passed away peacefully, 46 years to the day that he won his bronze medal for USA. Although Jimmie is no longer with us, Jimmie’s family and Can Do MS continue to carry his torch.
The first TAKE CHARGE® Program was launched. The program incorporates MS education, experiential activities, interaction with our medical staff of MS experts and with participants and their support partners in a small group setting throughout a weekend.