Mikkel Anthonisen – dedicated doctor, dad and anarchist reporting. Their MS-crewed Challenge 67 “Oceans of Hope” is parked at the Shipyard in Newport right now undergoing some well-deserved TLC, while he is at home in Denmark with his wife and three kids for some of the same!
Our circumnavigation to change the perceptions of Multiple Sclerosis and to inspire those who live with MS is going from strength to strength with each passage and every stopover. After an adventure-filled, Dorado-catching transatlantic crossing, we arrived in Boston early September in time to be the centerpiece of the MS Boston 2014 conference being hosted there – an annual gathering of experts and advocacy groups.
The Sailing Sclerosis Foundation and our project Oceans of Hope was invited to open the conference showing a video of our crossing and telling about the project. The crew were given a standing ovation by the 9,000 delegates present. This was really the culmination of many months of hard work – and proof that we are doing something that matters to a lot of people.
The journey since leaving Copenhagen in mid-June this year has indeed been changing the perception of MS. The MS crew on board feel like they have recaptured their identity. Many people living with a chronic disease like MS experience a life not only in fear but also in shame. However irrational, feeling embarrassed is a normal consequence of being diagnosed with MS. Oceans of Hope wants to heal some of the wounds by helping these people to get back in life, to stand up as they are and take pride in what they are doing. Out there in the middle of the ocean we are all very small and vulnerable. We are all imperfect. But we need each other and everybody is good enough and definitely worthy of love and belonging.
I think this is the message that had all the delegates stand up and applaud at the opening of the conference. This is the very same motivation that makes these doctors, nurses and scientists get up in the morning and go to work. This is the kind of society we probably all want to live in. A society where we care about each other and where people are included with the resources they have.
During our week long stay in Boston we managed to take some 30 local MS patients out sailing in Boston Harbor – a feature of all our many ports of call to create a network between the sailing world and the MS world. We also enjoyed a few Maine Lobsters in the cockpit as a send-off meal hosted by our MS Transat crew.
We will set sail from Newport on October 22nd with a new international MS crew, including some Americans to help with Homeland Security, and our next big stopover will be in the Big Apple itself November 11th-16th. We will be berthed at North Cove Marina where the Manhattan YC is providing us with their fabulous floating clubhouse to shelter from the autumn weather. Any anarchists that live with MS, or know someone who does, can come out for a sail with us. Sailing days are scheduled for November 14th and 15th with two sails per day – apply directly to us at [email protected]
If you live with MS and read this and then think: “No, I can´t do something like that”. It´s ok, and maybe you are right. But do me a favor: Show up anyway. You might be surprised. And if not: At least you tried. And you will still be one of us!