Monday, May 28, 2012

Active MSers Feature: David Gillikin

As some of you may know, Multiple Sclerosis is something which is close to me and I have tried to help raise awareness and funds over the years. A few months ago, I came across a website called ActiveMSers. It was started by Dave Bexfield who was diagnosed in early 2006 with MS, in his late 30's. A writer at heart, he is also an avid traveler and an adventure seeker. His MS, as he said, 'burbled merrily along' for the first few years, but in 2009 it became very aggressive. He started taking part in a clinical research trial called Halt-MS (an autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant using his own stem cells from his bone marrow, paired with high-dose chemotherapy). Since his transplant he has had zero progression physically. In Dave's words: "I'm on no daily medication for MS or for anything else, and the only supplement I take is Vitamin D. I'm still gimpy, using one or two forearm crutches or a walker when the legs get too stubborn. And for those wondering, yes I still exercise hard every day for 1.5 hours: cardio, strength, and stretching. And I still travel. What does the future hold? I'm as excited as you are to find out. Be active, stay fit, and keep exploring."

His story and the community he has created through ActiveMSers fascinated me. It is a place whereby those living with MS or recently diagnosed can communicate with one another and gain useful information on living with and more importantly staying active with MS. I contacted Dave and told him that I was intrigued and impressed with what he has done, and I am honored to be able to help raise awareness for ActiveMSers, Can Do MS and also funds to help Multiple Sclerosis.

I have started a fundraising effort which will culminate in my Ironman Hawaii World Championship race on October 13th. Leading up to the race, I would like to feature various people's stories on my blog; people who have been helpful in telling me their personal story with MS, and ultimately how they are striving to stay active in the face of it.
Any donations are much appreciated, and absolutely no donation is too small.
My fundraising site is here on MS Can Do
Please feel free to share it with others!

An with that said, I would like introduce you to David Gillikin and his personal story with MS.


I just wanted to tell a little bit about my story. I was diagnosed with MS in 2004, and at the time, I lived in Michigan. A new job took me to Colorado, and the fact that I have MS, and moving to Colorado, probably saved my life. Shortly after moving there, my girlfriend and I signed up for the 5K MS Walk/Run, and we raised money and did the walk together. While we were there, we observed the runners doing the 5K Run, and I said to Diane (my girlfriend), "I'm going to do that next year. At the time, no one would have guessed that I'd be able to do it. I was 50 pounds overweight, a smoker, and I drank vodka like it was water. Add the MS to the mix, and I was a mess.

But I did it. I lost about 30 pounds, stopped smoking, and stopped the drinking (now I'll have some beer, but I don't drink liquor anymore). Diane and I took up hiking, and we joined a gym where I would go to the treadmill and walk some, run some. It then came time for the MS 5K Walk/Run, and I signed up for the run part of it. Not only did I finish, but it inspired me so much that I've since run 7 marathons, about 28 half marathons, and many other 10K's and 5K's. I did all this after I turned 50 years old too.

So I can surely say that finding out that I have MS, may have saved my life. Well at least added a few more years to it!
I am now a RRCA certified running coach too so I am looking for others to inspire them to try and do what I did. It's not easy, but it is worth it.


David's personal website is MS Runner, take a peek.
Thanks David for your submission, & thank you for inspiring!