Can Do Multiple Sclerosis

Your support helps Can Do MS transform the lives of people with MS by delivering educational programs on exercise, nutrition, and symptom management to inspire long-lasting change.

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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 transforms the lives of people with MS by delivering educational programs on exercise, nutrition, and symptom management to inspire long-lasting change.


Can Do MS thrives as a unique resource, delivering a more personalized, engaging, and experiential approach to enhanced well-being with multiple sclerosis. In-person and online programs examine the particular needs, concerns, and challenges of living with MS, and incorporate exclusive sessions devoted to key issues surrounding support partners.

In 2015, Can Do MS provided in-person and online programming to 15,000 people living with MS and their support partners. In 2016, Can Do MS will increase its reach by 25%, growing these highly-sought-after programs to impact the lives of 20,000 people. Can Do MS will achieve this transformational growth through expanding the number and types of programs currently offered.

In 2016, Can Do MS will deliver its signature programs, the flagship, four-day CAN DO® Program (marking its 87th year with over 520 participants from Colorado), the two-day TAKE CHARGE® Program, and the one-day JUMPSTART® Program. New for 2016, CDMS will provide a JUMPSTART Young Professional's Program in New York City, focusing on topics specific to young professional's living with multiple sclerosis. Topics covered in this program will include Financial Planning, Employment Issues, Disclosure, and Dating with MS. There are over 12,000 people between the ages of 18 and 40 living with MS in New York City.

To make all of these exciting 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 (NMSS) to align resources and more effectively improve the quality of life of people with MS and their support partners. In 2016, this collaboration was transformed into an even more strategic partnership. Can Do MS and the NMSS are hosting the Webinar & Telelearning Series to reach constituents of both organizations and fulfill the common mission of touching the lives of more people with MS.

Impact Statement

In 2015, Can Do MS delivered 24 programs, transforming 14,949 lives. In 2016, Can Do MS will increase its reach by 25%, growing its highly-sought-after programs to transform the lives of 20,000 people living with MS and their support partners.

Can Do MS programs address lifestyle decisions, behaviors, knowledge of skills and resources, and approach to living associated with MS. Consistent self-reported behavioral outcomes across our programs portfolio include immediate increases in:
 Amount of exercise and mobility
 Healthy eating habits
 Strengthened relationships with loved ones (support partners)
 Attitudes of empowerment, including confidence in ability to live with and manage symptoms of MS

The acquisition of skills that enable long-term lifestyle change and improvement in quality of life that are consistently reported by participants include:
 Communication skills
 Confidence
 Self-esteem
 Mindfulness
 Self-efficacy in coping with demands of the illness
 Self-advocacy with health care professionals

Background Statement

Olympic Alpine Ski medalist, Jimmie Heuga, founded Can Do Multiple Sclerosis in 1984, after being diagnosed with MS at the height of his athletic career. While conventional medical wisdom of the time advocated for adapting a sedentary lifestyle with MS, Jimmie began to develop a program of exercise, nutrition, and mental motivation, ultimately improving his condition and proving to himself and the MS care field that he could continue to live a full life. Jimmie set a goal of inspiring the 2.5 million people worldwide and 400,000 Americans living with this disease, to redefine what is possible. CDMS advances Jimmie's legacy, transforming the lives of people with MS and their support partners by delivering experiential programs and education that equip them with the tools to live their best lives.

Board Chair/President Statement

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your continued support of Can Do MS and our work. Can Do MS had its strongest year in history in 2015, and 2016 is proving to be another record breaking year! The organization provided programs and resources that transformed the lives of more than 14,000 people in 2015, double the reach from just two years before. Can Do MS is excited to celebrate our successes with our supporters and look forward to actively addressing the challenges of reaching more people with MS each year.

Through our educational programs, people with MS learn to exercise appropriately, eat healthy, communicate effectively, and set goals regularly to inspire long-lasting change. This year, the organization is on track to reach 20,000 people with MS through our online and in-person programs, a 34% increase from last year!

Even with these milestones, there is much work to be done. It is estimated that 400,000 people in the United States and 2.4 million people worldwide live with MS. The complexities of the disease, limited access to health care and resources, mental frustration, and fatigue are only a few of the challenges that create a barrier for people with MS to live fully with the disease.

With the help of Can Do MS, people with MS will not just live with the disease…they will thrive!

Can Do MS continues to work with partners like the National MS Society and MS centers across the country to increase access to in person programs while identifying new learning platforms to increase online resource options. As a four-star rated organization by Charity Navigator, you can have confidence that Can Do MS is a good steward of all funds received. Thank you for your generous support to our mission.

With Gratitude,

Kelly Simpson-Angelini
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 and strategies on:
1. Exercise
2. Nutrition
3. Communication
4. Insurance
5. Stress Management
6. Fatigue Management
7. Transportation and Travel
8. Employment
9. MS Treatment

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

1. To provide the CAN DO® Program to one person plus their support partner, the cost is $10,000.

2. To provide the TAKE CHARGE® Program to one person plus their support partner, the cost is $4,000.

3. To provide the JUMPSTART® Program to one person plus their support partner, the cost is $1,000.

Executive Director Statement

Can Do Community Members,

Thank you for your continued support of people with MS and our work. The commitment of our board, expert program consultants, donors and staff fuels our mission delivery. Can Do MS transforms lives by delivering in-depth programs on exercise, nutrition, symptom management and motivation across the country each year.

Our impact is tremendous and growing. Last year, 14,949 people with MS and their families participated in more than 20 in-person and online programs. In just two short years, the organization doubled its program impact, with $1.73 million in revenue representing a 10% increase over 2014. The newest members of the can do family are thriving…

"I was nervous and scared to exercise due to balance and coordination issues with MS. After my Can Do MS program, I have confidence to do more. I have overcome embarrassment, I now ride a tricycle on family bike outings 2-3 times per week, and I feel normal."
- Arwen, 2015 Program Participant

Arwen's story and the compelling stories of all our program participants are the voices and living legacy of our founder, Olympian Jimmie Heuga. His vision of personal strength through exercise and medical treatment for people with MS continues to inspire our entire community. Jimmie blazed the trail, showing us all that exercise and a strong, positive attitude can change the way we live and how we contribute to the greater good.

The bright light of our future lies in strategic partnerships, working collaboratively with MS centers, hospitals, and other national nonprofit advocacy organizations to deliver more programs to more people with MS who want life-changing experiences that dramatically improve personal health.

2016 is already proving to be a pivotal year for growth of the organization. Strategic partnerships with the National MS Society and MS centers across the country have allowed us to reach more people with MS through the Webinar and Telelearning Series as well as the new Young Professionals JUMPSTART® program. Both initiatives launched in the fall of 2015 and have materialized well beyond expectations.

You have our thanks for your leadership and dedication to our community. Together, we can enable every person with MS to grow stronger and healthier.


Lisa Mattis

"A HUGE thank you to Can Do Multiple Sclerosis. I just got back from an intensive four-day program centered around what I CAN control in this disease which is my diet, exercise, mindfulness, and knowledge. It was amazing and absolutely life-changing."

- Nikki, 2015 CAN DO® Program Participant


"There is absolutely no way that I would have tried skiing again, if not for the Adaptive Ski Experience. My instructors helped me get over the initial difficulty of being on skis and made me feel confident enough to accomplish some awesome ski runs. It was a very positive experience for myself and my husband.

I feel extremely fortunate and grateful to have participated in this program, and I hope to return in the future. My husband really enjoyed being recognized for the challenges he faces as my support partner, and he appreciated being included in the fun. "

- Jane, 2016 Squaw Valley Adaptive Ski Program Participant


"It was a wonderful week-end. Relearning to adapt to situations I am not used to. Climbing stairs, being around crowds in a bar with wonderful music, meeting new people who share my disease. Finding so many smart, caring people who want to help people like me do anything is encouraging and heartwarming."

- Irene, 2016 Squaw Valley Adaptive Ski Program Participant


"Prior to my MS diagnosis I was an avid downhill skier and absolutely loved the Sierras in the winter. My wife and I were season pass holders at Kirkwood Ski resort in the Lake Tahoe area. In fact, we owned a home about 40 minutes from Kirkwood to be able to get a lot of days on the hill.

I was fearless on skis and loved the thrill of flying down a mountain. With the onset of my MS symptoms, and prior to my actual diagnosis, I started falling and it scared me, so I quit skiing. I thought that being back on the hill was not going to happen for me. Then I found Can Do Multiple Sclerosis and learned the story of Jimmie Heuga. What an incredible story and what an inspiration.

My wife and I attended a Can Do event last July in Oakland and I have to say it changed my life. Now I live I Am, I Can, I Do. Thank you for your support and allowing me to once again feel the thrill of skiing, although not as fast or effortlessly."

- Mark, 2015 Adaptive Ski Program Participant and 2014 TAKE CHARGE® Program Participant

Key aspects of this profile information have been reviewed by Community First Foundation staff. Each organization is exclusively responsible for the content that appears on the profile page. Community First Foundation offers general guidance as to the purpose of each area but does not require or encourage charities to include anything in particular in each section.

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