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Mastering Mountains Grant helping Kiwis with MS achieve their dreams

October 9, 2017 | Uncategorised

The Mastering Mountains Grant exists to financially assist people who have been diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis to overcome a specific obstacle so that they can achieve a specific outdoor pursuit. With this grant, the Mastering Mountains Trust and MSNZ hope to help people with MS pursue adventures that encourage a healthy lifestyle and change the perceptions of MS. Getting outdoors has therapeutic qualities and MS can hinder people from the fullest experience of this. The Grant hopes to help people overcome this obstacle.

MSNZ has had the pleasure of working with Nick for the last two years and we look forward to further developing this relationship and growing the Grant in the future. The Mastering Mountains Trust are the primary funders of the Grant and MSNZ supports with the administration and promotion. For more information about the Trust visit Applications are currently open for the next round of the Mastering Mountains Grant and close on the 31st October 2017. Application forms and guidelines can be found on our Scholarships, Grants and Awards page.

The inaugural Grant was awarded in November 2016 to fund a personal trainer to help Sue achieve her dream of tramping over the Maungatautari Mountain. The 11km track has a 500m ascent which Sue estimated would take five hours to complete. “It’s a big mission! My MS and my current lack of fitness are the only reasons I have not yet done this,” said Sue when applying.

Sue works as the Administration Manager at the Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust in Pukeatua. “I love the role and I often get called into the Visitor Center, where I talk with visitors and tell them about the sanctuary and its tracks. The only problem is that I had to rely on second-hand information.”

The Panel were encouraged by Sue’s determination and reasons for wanting to complete this challenge; “I am looking forward to that feeling of achieving something that is out of reach with the support and encouragement of others. To me, it’s also really important to make memories with my young daughter. She is very active and I want to be able to participate in outdoor activities with her. Walking over Mt Maungatautari will help me achieve this and I believe that it will set me up for future adventures.”

Sue initially struggled with the additional exercise, thinking she never be fit enough. However, she soon overcame her initial fears and was off to a flying start managing to treble the amount of daily walking, building in daily bush walks at work and going to the gym once a week. “Every morning before I start work, my boss lets me go for a power walk for 35 minutes on the mountain tracks, I also climb the 16m tower three times a week, if not 4, which is 91 steps.” Despite an injury mid-way she was soon back on track with a renewed determination planning base to mountain peak training walks.

“Thanks to the personal training and regular exercise I am much fitter, my balance has improved and I have so much more confidence in myself, to not only get out more, and by myself, but also confidence that I can achieve this goal I have set myself.” Sue set herself a second challenge to lose 10kgs. “I started training and following the Overcoming MS diet in early January. Boy, does it feel good having shed those extra pounds and I feel much healthier.”

Before the walk, Sue admitted, “I am a little scared but very excited – scared as I know it will be no mean feat with my MS, but excited that I have every chance of achieving my goal due to all the support I have been given to get me there!”

Sue’s challenge took place on the 24th September 2017. “It was amazing, I was nervous as anything, however excited that the day had finally come.” Sue was supported by a team of 21 including staff from MS Waikato, other PwMS, her personal trainer, colleagues, Maungatautari Trust volunteers, friends and even a surprise visit from her Neurologist.

“I must admit the first two hours were hard going, steep uphill rises, however with such a big support group, encouragement and laughter we made it to the top of Maungatautari.” Following a lunch stop in the saddle, enjoying the rare birdlife and views, they reached the Visitors Centre where staff and Trustees had tea, a dairy free birthday cake and flowers waiting.

“I walked down the final slope towards the Visitors Centre to clapping and cheering. I was elated and overwhelmed with my achievement, thankful for the support I had from so many people and to be surrounded by such positivity. I inspired a few PwMS to do the walk with me and they achieved their goal too, an awesome effort! I feel honoured to have inspired others to push past MS and kick MS in the butt and say I can do this even with MS. MS may slow me down but it will not stop me! We all achieved something. I was smiling all the way and I am still smiling. I achieved. I met my goal. I lived my dream.”

“A huge thanks to the support I received from the Mastering Mountains Grant, sponsors, my trainer, friends and family. It would not have been possible without such amazing support.”

Applications are currently open for the Mastering Mountains Grant and close on the 31st October. Apply now and we might be able to help you achieve your dreams. See more on the Scholarships, Grants and Awards page.