VAIL — As the world’s most elite athletes prepare to compete in Sochi, Russia, a Colorado-based national nonprofit will launch a two-day event to commemorate one of Colorado’s most distinguished world-class athletes and the individuals who are generous to those living with multiple sclerosis (MS). This Friday and Saturday, the Vail Vertical Express for Can Do MS, an annual skiing extravaganza at Vail Mountain, will memorialize the athletic prowess and charity of Can Do MS founder, Jimmie Heuga, the first American ever to medal in Olympic ski racing. The event takes place on and commemorates the 50th anniversary of Heuga’s bronze medal.
Heuga has been referred to by many of his contemporaries as a “game changer” who paved a new path for people living with MS and who changed the face of the ski racing sport globally.
Skiers, boarders and telemarkers of all ages and abilities will have the opportunity to test out Vail’s EpicMix Race Course, ski with Heuga’s teammate and fellow Olympic medalist Billy Kidd, learn about adaptive skiing and participate in the Jimmie Heuga Memorial Ski Down, which will culminate in an apres celebration complete with live music.
The event raises funds for Can Do MS, a national nonprofit and innovative provider of lifestyle empowerment programs that help families living with MS. The event has raised more than $11 million in its 29-year history, and Can Do MS hopes to raise $50,000 at this year’s event.
“Vertical Express is an event that ties together one of our founder’s greatest loves, skiing, with his lifelong commitment to inspire and empower people with MS to enjoy a better quality of life,” said Heidi A. Heltzel, president and CEO of Can Do MS. “We invite anyone whose lives have been touched by MS, as well as those who simply love to enjoy winter sports, to join us for a two-day celebration that showcases what one can do while making a meaningful difference for those living with MS and their families.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Event registration is $25 and benefits Can Do MS programs. Because Can Do MS offers free programs, the more funds that are raised at this event, the more people the nonprofit will be able to serve.
Participants also have the opportunity to raise additional funds. Those who raise $250 or more are awarded VIP status and receive prizes, a gift bag and perks at the apres party. Participants can register online at www.mscando.org/vail to start fundraising and will receive a personal web page that they can customize with their own messages and photos, allowing them to honor loved ones touched by MS and inspire others to support their participation.