Vail Valley’s Heuga Center changes name to Can Do |

Vail Valley’s Heuga Center changes name to Can Do

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –The Vail Valley’s Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis is changing its name to Can Do Multiple Sclerosis as of Nov. 2 – a decision founder Jimmie Heuga said disappoints him.

“I’m not especially happy about that,” Heuga said. “I’ve got my heart and soul in the (Heuga Center).”

Heuga, an Olympic bronze medal skier who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1969 in an assisted living center near Denver. He attends Heuga Center seminars, but hasn’t been directly involved with the organization for several years.

The nonprofit organization’s board hired outside consultants several years ago to look at ways to better get its message across, said John Shipp, the board’s president.

Consultants came back with the recommendation of changing the name to reach that mission. The new name “best reflects the organization’s core beliefs, builds a stronger brand and creates new national collaborative opportunities with organizations like the National MS Society,” according to a Heuga Center statement released Thursday.

Can Do has been the name of the five-day educational seminars offered by the Heuga Center for years, and Monica Tall, the organization’s director of marketing, said the new name should eliminate confusion about what the organization does.

Tall said people often think the Heuga Center is a place where they can come for treatment, when really it’s an organization that sponsors awareness and educational seminars for people living with multiple sclerosis.

The seminars teach what Heuga created – a train of thought that staying active and keeping positive about the disease will ultimately keep people healthier. When Heuga had these ideas in the 1960s, they were the opposite of how doctors were treating the disease at the time, said Sharon Dwight, Heuga’s ex-wife and close friend.

“Because of Jimmie the center is there – because of his discoveries of how he wanted to feel as an MS patient,” Dwight said.

Shipp said the new name reflects the organization’s message, which is to help more people and families who are affected by the disease, Shipp said.

“To put Can Do Multiple Sclerosis (into the name of the organization) is basically saying ‘this is what we do,'” Shipp said. “”The new name is designed to better embody what the organization does.”

Shipp said the center was once called the Jimmie Heuga Center, and was changed to the Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis, and that the new change is just another “natural evolution of the process of helping more people and families.”

Shipp said Heuga is the founder and the organization will never forget that.

“The whole story is based on the story of Jimmie Heuga – that’s what we teach people,” Shipp said. “The name change really reflects the idea of lifestyle empowerment, which is our message.”

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

Support Local Journalism