Charity founder, Susan Strachan, continues a year of “Milestones” to commemorate MS Cure Fund’s 10th anniversary
BOSTON, Massachusetts — What do you do to celebrate the tenth anniversary of starting a charity? If you’re Susan Strachan, you continue to do whatever you can to bring a positive light to people living with multiple sclerosis (MS).
On Monday, September 1st, 2014, MS Cure Fund founder, Susan Strachan became the first American to join the crew of Oceans of Hope to sail from Bermuda to Boston. Oceans of Hope, a 67 foot racing sailboat crewed by MS patients, is circumnavigating the globe in an effort to change the perceptions of multiple sclerosis by showing what is possible when people with a chronic disease are empowered to conquer their individual challenges.
“Having MS has brought me challenges I never dreamed I could overcome,” said Strachan before her departure. “But in overcoming those challenges, I have grown as a person, and most importantly, have come to appreciate what we can do versus what society or stereotypes think we can’t. When Mikkel called and asked if I would join the crew to sail into Boston, I had to accept. I have sailed most of my life, but never anything like this. I’m hoping that by getting outside my comfort zone, again, and joining this crew of truly inspirational people, that we can inspire others living with MS, showing that so much is possible once you have the faith to take that first step.”
Oceans of Hope is the dream become reality of Dr. Mikkel Anthonisen, a specialist at Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, in Denmark. A doctor, psychotherapist and sailor, Mikkel founded the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation and has been working with multiple sclerosis patients since 2010. The Oceans of Hope circumnavigation was born out of the success of the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation’s sailing projects in Denmark, and it was a conversation with an MS patient that sparked the idea.
“It’s the natural progression and the ultimate dream after we set up a really successful sailing program in Denmark for people with MS. It started quite small, grew bigger as more people got involved and realized their MS didn’t mean they had to stop completely doing something they loved; it’s just a question of doing it a bit differently.” Said Dr. Anthonisen.
Oceans of Hope set sail from Copenhagen, Denmark, on 15 June 2014 and will visit approximately 20 ports around the world, the first group of which are in Europe and include Kiel (Germany), Portsmouth (UK), La Rochelle (France) and Lisbon (Portugal). Following the first of three Atlantic Ocean crossings Oceans of Hope will arrive in Boston, Massachusetts (USA) on Monday, September 8th, 2014.
Susan Strachan has been living with multiple sclerosis for 14 years. In 1999, while exercising on a tread mill, she had a very sudden and frightening onset of optic neuritis (blindness due to nerve damage). Four months later she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Thankfully Susan ultimately regained 80% of her vision in her right eye, but remains essentially blind in the left eye.
When Susan was recovering from the initial MS attack, as a blind person, she found it very difficult to get information or local support for patients with MS. As she recovered, Susan continued to search for local support for MS patients. Four years later, Susan founded MS Cure Fund, a non-profit committed to patient support in the local communities where they live and work. Now ten years later, MS Cure Fund has grown to serve thousands of patients in twelve states across the U.S.
The first American to join the crew of Oceans of Hope, Susan learned to sail aged 12 and has sailed regularly at Hyannis Port on Cape Cod. Besides sailing, Susan is an avid golfer, downhill skier and enjoys attending performances of the Boston Pops Orchestra as often as possible.