Maya in Avon hosts pro cyclist Tyler Hamilton, Can Do MS on June 8 | VailDaily.com

Maya in Avon hosts pro cyclist Tyler Hamilton, Can Do MS on June 8

From left, Tyler Hamilton, Jimmie Heuga and Billy Kidd stop for a photo at the Ski for MS event in 2006. Hamilton has been a big supporter of Heuga and Can Do MS and will be in Avon on Thursday, June 8, for a free community event.
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If you go ...

What: Truth & Transformation.

Where: The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, Avon.

When: Thursday, June 8, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Cost: Free.

More information: Visit www.mscando.org.

Jimmie Heuga helped pave the way for American ski racing as one of the first two members of the U.S. men’s team to win an Olympic medal, but his legacy lives on with Can Do MS, an organization dedicated to supporting those with multiple sclerosis.

Heuga passed away in 2010 at the age of 66 after a 40-year battle with the disease that disrupts the nervous system resulting in physical, mental and sometimes psychiatric problems.

In 1984, he opened the Jimmie Heuga Center in Edwards to help MS patients through exercise, as Heuga continued to ski in a sit-ski until it was no longer possible.

What started as the Jimmie Heuga Foundation is now the Can Do MS organization, still based in Eagle County but expanding its reach across the U.S.

On Thursday, Can Do MS is hosting a free event for the community where it all began. Former professional cyclist and Tour de France competitor Tyler Hamilton joins Can Do MS at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa’s Maya restaurant and deck in Avon from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. for the event, Truth & Transformation.

“I knew Jimmie really well in the last five or six years of his life,” Hamilton said. “I really looked up to him, got to know him and enjoyed doing events with him. I’ve always been a big supporter of Jimmie and his foundation.”

Truth & Transformation will include time to mingle with Hamilton and other Can Do MS representatives.

‘Giving back’

Hamilton remembers the day he learned about multiple sclerosis.

Back around 1997, he joined a friend who was participating in a ride for multiple sclerosis near Boston on behalf of a family member. Hamilton showed up not knowing anything about the disease, ready to ride, and left with all of the knowledge about the disease that affects 400,000 Americans.

“Ever since that moment, I’ve dedicated part of my life to giving back and trying to help,” Hamilton said.

Part of that giving back is through MS Global, a week-long, invite-only bike tour that donates 100 percent of the funds to Can Do MS.

“We raised well over $200,000 last year,” he said.

This year’s ride is in Majorca, Spain.

The money raised goes to support Can Do MS’ mission of supporting people with multiple sclerosis with educational programs on exercise, nutrition and symptom management. The overall goal is to motivate long-lasting change for both those with MS and their families to help them thrive.

“Can Do MS and Tyler are really about truth and transformation,” CEO Lisa Mattis said about Thursday’s event. “We transform lives.”

The Truth & Transformation event is free and open to the public. For more information about Can Do MS and to support its cause, visit http://www.mscando.org.

Entertainment and outdoors editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.



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