Fort Lauderdale Greets Oceans of Hope yacht and multiple sclerosis crew sailing a global voyage to change perceptions of MS
Oceans of Hope, the 67-foot yacht undertaking the first circumnavigation with a working crew of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), has arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on the latest leg of a 33,000-nautical mile global voyage.
Oceans of Hope sailed into Fort Lauderdale this morning at 11:00 a.m. local time to an enthusiastic dockside audience awaiting their arrival. Cheers ensued, horns blared and the crew looked happy to arrive in the tropical landscape of Florida.
It has been a long and arduous journey for some, including Christina Lamb Sidell, who joined the Oceans of Hope crew several weeks ago in New Jersey and sailed the extreme offshore passage around Cape Hatteras. A wife and mother hailing from Burlington, Vermont, Lamb Sidell was diagnosed with MS in 2010 when she developed optic neuritis. Since then, she has decided to face her diagnosis head-on, Lamb Sidell now views MS as a challenge that she can overcome.
"What can I do? How far can I go? What haven't I done that I still want to do? How can I learn to work around such an unpredictable disease?" She finally states, "I take action and seize the day."
Oceans of Hope was greeted on the dock by media, family, friends, and MS advocates, including Alan Segaloff, Co-Executive Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation based in Fort Lauderdale.
"Oceans of Hope is navigating the seas to bring awareness about MS and offers an opportunity for people with MS to feed their dreams not their fears about MS," said Segaloff. "The motivation of this incredible crew is an inspiration to us all and we at the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation are proud to be a part of this initiative."
During the six-day stopover in Fort Lauderdale Oceans of Hope will be berthed at the Bahia Mar Yachting Center, in the heart of sunny Fort Lauderdale and people living with MS will be invited to take part in sailing trips on the 6th of December. Further information can be found at www.sailing-sclerosis.org.
Later in the evening on December 6th, the Oceans of Hope crew will receive an award for their determination and dedication to sail around the globe at the "HATS OFF! Gala" at the Hyatt Regency, benefitting the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (www.msfocus.org).
Oceans of Hope is the flagship vessel of a campaign by the same name which aims to change perceptions of MS during the course of its 17-month global journey, encouraging participation in sailing as the yacht makes its way around the world. It is a project of the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation which was founded by Danish doctor and psychotherapist, Mikkel Anthonisen.
The Oceans of Hope project aims to educate, inspire and motivate those living with MS. Instead of accepting a diagnosis and feeling paralyzed in life. The experience of sailing is intended to open new doors of opportunity and challenge the feeling of a life-sentence that often comes when one is faced with the challenges of MS.
Oceans of Hope's voyage began in Copenhagen, Denmark, on June 15, 2014 and has made stopovers in numerous port cities in Europe, crossed the North Atlantic and was a centerpiece at the MS2014 ACTRIMS/ECTRIMS Conference hosted in Boston, Massachusetts, where the yacht and crew were presented to the 9,000 international attendees. Oceans of Hope will set sail following the short stop in Fort Lauderdale to continue the global journey, heading south through the Panama Canal and crossing the Pacific Ocean for visits to New Zealand, Australia and Asia. This ground-breaking circumnavigation will end in Barcelona during October of 2015 where the yacht and crew will attend the MS2015 ACTRIMS/ECTRIMS global conference.
People living with MS from all over the world are participating as crew on each leg of the voyage and places are still available on board throughout the journey. To find out more and apply to take part, those living with MS may download the application forms at sailing-sclerosis.org
Biogen Idec is the Official Partner of Oceans of Hope. Through cutting-edge science and medicine Biogen Idec discovers, develops and delivers to patients worldwide innovative therapies for the treatment of MS. Founded in 1978, Biogen Idec is the world's oldest independent biotechnology company.
Oceans of Hope will set sail from Bahia Mar Yachting Center in Fort Lauderdale on December 8, 2014.
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About the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation and Oceans of Hope
The Sailing Sclerosis Foundation (SSF) is a non-profit, non-stock, independent association duly incorporated under Danish law and supervised by the Danish government. SSF has a professional Board of Directors and has as its main objective: "To enable and develop people with multiple sclerosis through sailing and activities around sailing."
Oceans of Hope ApS is a limited liability company wholly owned by SSF, with the task of managing the Sailing Sclerosis project, Oceans of Hope, to sail around the world with a working crew including people with multiple sclerosis.
Oceans of Hope will change the perception of multiple sclerosis by showing what is possible when people with a chronic disease are empowered to conquer their individual challenges, by engaging those whose lives are touched by MS and developing networks as a foundation for life-changing behaviors.
This project aims to broaden the horizons of those who perceive themselves as trapped by their condition, either physically or mentally, and inspire them to realize that they still have potential to achieve great things.
About Dr. Mikkel Anthonisen
Dr. Mikkel Anthonisen, 47, is a specialist at Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, in Denmark. A doctor, psychotherapist and sailor, he has been working with multiple sclerosis patients for the last four years. He established SSF after meeting a person living with MS in 2013 through his practice. Having heard the man, a former blacksmith, had sailed before being diagnosed with MS, Dr. Anthonisen encouraged him to get back on the water to help counteract depression he was feeling because of his diagnosis. This was the beginning of a program which now has groups of people with MS across Denmark sailing regularly.