From May 13 – 20, 2018, the Sailing Sclerosis Project – Oceans of Hope Challenge, will be sailing our beautiful Dalmatian Coast. A heartfelt project, to give new hope and encourage those to push beyond the barriers of Multiple Sclerosis.
This an inspirational story, dedicated to all of those whose lives are touched by multiple sclerosis or by any other chronic disease. Multiple sclerosis is a disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged, resulting in a range of signs and symptoms including physical, mental and sometimes also psychiatric problems.
The Sailing Sclerosis Project was established by Dr.Mikkel Anthonisen, based in Copenhagen in Denmark. He has been working with multiple sclerosis patients since 2010. During the conversation with one of his patients, he came up with the brilliant idea of starting this project. His main goal was to change the perception of people living with multiple sclerosis.
Mr. Robert Munns, one of the founders of the Oceans of Hope Challenge, which is the part of The Sailing Sclerosis Project, shared his story about how he felt when he got his diagnosis, what does it mean to live with multiple sclerosis and why is he part of The Sailing Sclerosis Project.
It all happened about ten years ago when he was on holiday in Florida, far away from his homeland. One day, during his vacation time, his eyes suddenly started to act strangely, with limited movement. He was immediately transferred to Miami hospital where the doctors diagnosed him with multiple sclerosis. At that moment he felt very scared. Only one close friend was with him when he got the diagnosis. He claims that he knew only a few persons who were touched by multiple sclerosis, and it seemed very scary to him. Mr. Robert claims that both his vision and speech were seriously affected by multiple sclerosis. He also started to get the well-known sensation of electric ants, running up and down his body. This all lasted from October to January 2008. By March 2008 his double vision had almost gone but his speech was still very affected. He felt very scared, claiming that for him, fear was the real killer.
After spending a few years not being able to commit properly to life, he got a job at Brighton Marina as one of the managers there. One day the team from The Sailing Sclerosis Project came to the marina to see if it was a good place for one of their stops during their circumnavigation. He spent a few weeks thinking about The Sailing Sclerosis Project, and he finally decided to join them. Mr. Robert claims that this project represented a new opportunity to him, the opportunity to be part of life again.
Now he is a proud member of The Sailing Sclerosis Project. Together with Dr. Mikkel he came up with the Oceans of Hope Challenge idea. The Challenge is a continuation of the Oceans of Hope circumnavigation spirit, bringing people together to help each other and to share experiences. This project encouraged him to retrieve his identity again. It also encouraged him to become stronger and to put his MS into perspective.
In short, Mr. Munns claims that the Oceans of Hope Challenge gave him a piece of ‘cake’, a piece that helped him to put it all into perspective. His main aim is to bring people together and create an environment where others can get a taste of that same ‘cake’. The Oceans of Hope Challenge is a movement that brings people together to help each other achieve their own form of greatness again.
The first Oceans of Hope Challenge was held in 2016 and took place in Gocek, Turkey. This year, in May, Oceans of Hope Challenge will take place in Croatia. Participants will be sailing along the beautiful Dalmatian coast with a fleet of 10 boats, with participants from 14 different countries. They will be exploring old Dalmatian towns including Trogir, Rogoznica and Šibenik. The challenge starts on May 13 and finishes May 20. They are also making new plans for the next year sailing challenge, in New Zealand and in Croatia again. If you are interested, feel free to contact them via e-mail: [email protected]. Also, you can contact directly Mr. Munns, founder and organiser of the Oceans of Hope Challenge via e-mail address: [email protected]. People with MS diagnosis from all countries and nationalities are welcome to join them. Whether you have sailed before or not this is a great opportunity to make some good memories with new friends.
If you feel trapped by your own condition, do not forget that you still can achieve great things, you just need to challenge yourself.
All photos from Oceans of Hope.