Can Do Multiple Sclerosis

Can Do Multiple Sclerosis is a national nonprofit organization that provides innovative lifestyle empowerment programs for people living with MS and their support partners.

Organizational Overview

Can Do Multiple Sclerosis
100 W. Beaver Creek Blvd., Ste 200
Avon, CO 81620
(2009)The Heuga Center for MS
Can Do MS leads the way with comprehensive programs that
empower people and families living with MS to transform
and improve their quality of life.


Can Do MS's personalized and experiential programs take a unique whole person, whole health, whole community view of maximizing health and life with MS, equipping participants with the expanded knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors, actively co-manage their disease and live their best lives. Can Do MS honors the legacy and beliefs of organizational founder, Jimmie Heuga, who embodied a positive, can do philosophy that you can stay well and live well with MS.

Can Do Multiple Sclerosis was founded in Colorado in 1984 and has been headquartered here since our founding. By working with over 70 MS experts (Program Consultants) representing varying medical disciplines, Can Do MS provides programs and services to more people every year--helping them shift their focus away from their MS and onto what they can do. We are the only organization recognizing the special role of MS support partners with each of our programs incorporating aspects specifically tailored to their needs and well-being.

Can Do MS delivered its flagship CAN DO® Program in Aurora, Colorado March 19-22, 2014. The four-day CAN DO® Program is limited to 24 people with MS and their 24 support partners, so that we can offer a nearly 1:1 staff-to-participant ratio, which guarantees that each person receives personal attention. The March 2014 program marks the 85th time the CAN DO® Program has been presented in Colorado since the program launched in 1984. In that time, 524 Coloradoans have participated in the CAN DO® Program. The CAN DO® Program was offered for a nominal $50 application fee with lodging during the program included free of charge.

We are excited to announce the newest addition to our in-person programs! Our two-day TAKE CHARGE® Program is a weekend that incorporates educational sessions, experiential activities, workshops, interactions with MS experts, and other people living with MS and their support partners. In 2013, the inaugural TAKE CHARGE® Program was held June 21st-23rd in Charleston, West Virginia and was offered to 60 people with MS and their support partners. In 2014, we expanded the program to host 80 people with MS and their support partners this past June in Oakland, California. We currently have waiting lists for all our in-person programs, so the more money we raise each year will help us provide more programming.

Can Do MS has had strong participation from the people of Colorado in our other programs as well. Our one-day JUMPSTART® Program has provided 15 of our one day JUMPSTART Programs in Colorado since 2005 and 608 Coloradoans have participated.

Can Do MS launched its Webinar Series in 2010. It has provided hundreds of Coloradoans knowledge on a variety of MS topics. This series consistently provides accessible, up-to-date information on varying MS topics presented by more than one MS expert.

Can Do MS will continue to have our headquarters here in Colorado and will always offer programs that are open to, and often located in, Colorado. We greatly appreciate the support of the people of the State of Colorado in that effort.

Can Do MS has earned a four-star rating, the highest rating possible, for six consecutive years from nonprofit evaluator, Charity Navigator, placing us in the top 3% of all charities they review. This achievement recognizes our commitment to fiscal responsibility, with more than 80 percent of all funds directed towards our programs.

To make our programs available to as many people living with MS as we can, we work collaboratively with MS care providers and organizations around the U.S. and Canada. In 2009, Can Do MS formed a collaborative partnership with the National MS Society to align resources and more effectively improve the quality of life of people with MS and their support partners. We are also members of the Consortium of MS Centers and the MS Coalition.

Impact Statement

Can Do MS, is an innovative provider of lifestyle empowerment programs for people with MS and their support partners who want to see beyond the challenges of their disease and live their best lives with MS. By leveraging a transformative, experiential and multi-disciplinary approach to MS care management, Can Do MS empowers people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to become active co-managers of their health while regaining a sense of control, dignity, hope and freedom in discovering the power to be more than their MS.

Our approach is rooted in a uniquely empowering whole person, whole health, whole community philosophy to maximizing health and living with MS. Can Do MS offers a range of individualized experiential learning formats, including multi-day workshops, weekend seminars, online resources and peer support programs. We compassionately equip individuals with the expanded knowledge, skills, awareness and confidence to become active co-managers of their health. We enhance and complement traditional models of care by focusing on the physical, interpersonal, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects of living with MS.

Can Do MS impacts at least 10,000 people with MS each year through our in-person programs, online services and other outreach efforts. In 2013, Can Do MS had 19 programs in which 12,140 lives were touched. Our in-person programs had 500 participants. Our online programs provided information for 11,640 people living with MS. About 200 people from Colorado attended a mixture of both online and in-person programs provided by Can Do MS.

Background Statement

Since 1984, Can Do MS, formerly The Jimmie Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis, has been at the forefront of promoting the culture and belief that everyone living with MS has the power to live full lives. Our organization honors the legacy and beliefs of founder Jimmie Heuga, a pioneer in the MS care management field who was diagnosed with MS in 1970. At the time of his diagnosis, and in line with conventional medical wisdom of the time, Jimmie was advised to avoid physical activity to manage his condition and preserve his health. Being the high-caliber athlete and rebelling against his prescribed sedentary lifestyle, Jimmie began developing his own program of exercise, nutrition and mental motivation to improve his physical condition and outlook on life with MS.

Board Chair/President Statement

Dear Friends,

Can Do Multiple Sclerosis is a leading provider of innovative lifestyle empowerment programs for people with MS and their support partners. We are pleased to share with all of our supporters the many successes we have had in the past year, and we look toward an even stronger 2015.

Through our mission of bringing a multi-disciplinary approach to MS care management, Can Do MS impacts the lives of approximately 10,000 people annually. By offering a wide array of programming, which includes both multi-day and one-day formats, we are able to educate and empower our program participants and their support partners with the lifelong tools they need to experience a better and more fulfilling quality of life. Additionally, we provide monthly educational webinars that have incorporated this effort by bringing together multiple specialists to speak on a single topic.

Multiple sclerosis is the second most expensive disease to treat, so we are proud to be able to provide our programs free of charge. Due to high demand, all of our programs have waiting lists, and only limitations on funding impedes us from serving more people.

Can Do MS has received a four star rating from Charity Navigator for six out of the last seven years for our fiscal responsibility. As a valued supporter of Can Do MS you can have confidence that your donation goes directly to improving the quality of lives of people living with MS. Thank you for your generous support to our mission.

With Gratitude,

Richard and Robin Kelly
Can Do MS Board of Directors

Needs Statement

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system, in which the insulating, protective covering (myelin sheath) surrounding the nerves in the brain and spinal cord is destroyed or damaged, resulting in interference with the brain's signals to various parts of the body.

• MS is diagnosed most frequently in adults between the ages of 20 and 50.
• The average rate of occurrence is one in every 750 people.
• Approximately 400,000 Americans have MS. 73% of them are women.
• There is no known cause, and no cure.

Symptoms of MS include numbness in the limbs, impaired speech and vision, blindness, and paresis/paralysis. Continued damage to the myelin on the spinal cord will lead to increased weakness (paresis) in the extremities, typically beginning in the legs and moving up to the arms and trunk. As a progressive disease, the damage will continue and cause increasing weakness with paresis ultimately developing into paralysis.

People with MS identify a primary unmet need for more information on: exercise, nutrition, insurance, transportation, and employment. People with MS, and their support partners, need information and strategies for exercise, nutrition, communication, stress management and MS treatment.

For Can Do MS to put on such successful in-person and online programs our needs are below:

To provide the CAN DO® Program to one person plus their support partner, the cost is $11,500

To provide the TAKE CHARGE™ Program to one person plus their support partner, the cost is $4,500.

To provide the JUMPSTART® Program to one person plus their support partner, the cost is $1,200.

Executive Director Statement

Dear Friends,

Everything we do at Can Do MS is driven by one simple belief: you are more than your MS.

Can Do MS is the only resource of its kind in the world. We begin where other health and wellness programs leave off, complementing the traditional models of MS care by providing a more personalized, engaging, and experiential approach to enhanced well-being with multiple sclerosis.

• We provide a hands-on, interdisciplinary approach to MS care management that addresses the whole person, whole life and whole family aspects of living with MS.

• Our unique philosophy, approach and learning model helps people with MS and their support partners focus on what they can do.

• We provide one of the industry's most comprehensive support partner programs, leveraging a range of engaging, experiential and active-learning programs.

• We take an individualized approach to teaching and learning, beginning where you are, no matter what stage of MS, and helping you to apply what you've learned to your unique condition and symptoms.

• We go deeper and broader than other MS educators, encouraging hands-on learning through personal goal setting, group interaction and individualized instruction to help you experience first-hand what is possible with MS.

• Our four-day CAN DO Program offers the industry's most comprehensive view of multiple sclerosis, incorporating the expertise, guidance and insight of a broad range of interdisciplinary health care professionals.

• Our mission, culture and programs are all driven by a core belief that everyone has the power to live fully with MS and achieve higher levels of health and well-being through increased self-awareness, acceptance, understanding and support.

In 2013, we impacted more than 10,000 people living with MS throughout North America and did so in collaboration with other members of our MS community. This year we currently have waiting lists for our upcoming programs, which are provided free of charge. That means fundraising continues to be essential for us to be able to meet the demand. Your gifts provide the critical resources which allow us to sustain our current programming while keeping an eye toward the future and opportunities to expand and create the innovative programming and online services people with MS and their support partners value. Over 80 percent of the dollars we receive are committed to our programs and services.

We consider every dollar contributed to be important and every donor like you to be the reason why we are able to continue offering our lifestyle empowerment programs to families living with MS free of charge!

I encourage you to visit our website to learn more about our upcoming programs and event happenings in 2014-2015.

Again, thank you for your generosity and support.

Heidi A. Heltzel
President and CEO

"I feel like a little kid at Christmas and the staff has been Santa. For the first time since I was diagnosed I feel like the possibilities for my life are limitless. The CAN DO® program has given me the key to my new life. It looks different from what I thought it would be but there is a whole new world open for me. Thank you doesn't begin to cover it."
From Kelly S.

Alice Plain, CAN DO Program Alumni

Before attending our CAN DO® Program in 2008, Alice Plain was on the right path to living fully despite her recent diagnosis. She was the Head Pro at a local golf course, which is a very physically demanding profession. Alice, who started her golf career in 1996, was diagnosed with MS in 2006. After her diagnosis, Alice could have chosen to move on from her Head Pro position, but she didn't. In fact, she did the opposite and found ways to increase her involvement with the Pro Golf Association (PGA). In 2012, she was the first woman to earn the Bill Strausbaugh Award for excellence, awarded by The Colorado PGA West Chapter for her work in mentoring young golf professionals.

Alice used the philosophies we teach to aid her in improving her own health along with mentoring other aspiring golf professionals, all while supporting local war veterans and children interested in learning to golf.

"After attending the CAN DO Program I learned a lot about the ways I could help myself."

One of Alice's biggest battles with MS is the numbness in her legs. After the program she realized that it was better for her to walk while playing a round of golf than to ride in a cart.

"I enjoy walking when I play golf, it gives me more time to socialize and relax with the people I'm playing with."

That wasn't the only thing Alice learned.

"The CAN DO Program helped me realize that I need to make the most of every day, whether I'm playing golf, working, biking or hiking."

Alice has taken this philosophy and run with it. A few years ago she started mentoring young aspiring golf professionals. The goal of the program was to prepare them for a successful career in golf. Instead of giving them mundane tasks, Alice decided to give them as much responsibility as possible.

"I wanted the young professionals to take ownership of their chosen career and make the most of their time while I was mentoring them. Which is why I gave them more responsibility than usual, the more hands on they were the better. I looked at myself more as their coach than as their boss."

Alice's dedication to helping others never fades. Throughout the years she has spearheaded programs to bring local children out for action packed days of lessons and rounds of golf. Along with teaching children to golf Alice also works with the Vail Veterans Program to give veterans a chance to get out on the golf course.

"It's amazing to see how playing golf can bring a smile to people's faces and allow them to forget about their worries. This is a gift that golf has given me and I love passing that on to children and veterans."

"My Wife and I enjoyed this greatly. Thank you so much for, and this is to all who had a part in this program, caring about our problems. This weekend will help my wife and I grow closer, but it also gave us the true feeling of normality. Something I don't think we've had for a while. Thank you just can't say it right."
From Charles & Theresa H.
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