Oceans of Hope yacht and multiple sclerosis crew sail through the Panama Canal greeting the Pacific Ocean on the latest leg of their global voyage
Oceans of Hope, the 67-foot yacht undertaking the first circumnavigation with a working crew of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), spent the weekend traveling the locks of the Panama Canal. They have arrived in Panama City greeted by the Pacific Ocean and chocked off another major milestone in circling the globe under sail.
"Going through the Panama Canal is an epic moment for us," said Founder and CEO of the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation Dr. Mikkel Anthonisen. "To enter from the Atlantic side into the Pacific Ocean just seven months after leaving Copenhagen, it's almost a transforming process. Just like our goal of changing the perceptions of MS - we are making the impossible possible! Still there are many dreams to be lived out. Many oceans to be crossed."
Giovanni Profeta, the only crew member hailing from South America lives with MS. He is a lawyer from Lecheria, Venezuela. Diagnosed with MS in 2010 following the discovery of intense optical neuritis and the loss of strength in his lower body, Giovanni finds the crew dynamic inspiring.
"Right now I feel I have friends all around. We're not simply patients with something in common, we are doing something out of this world, and we are all putting our biggest effort to make it happen." He adds, ""Sometimes the sea treats you well, and you can have a comfortable day on Oceans of Hope. Other times, the sea gets a bit eager and everything moves - the rain can come out of nowhere to make your night watch miserable, but in the end, it's in us to get the most out of every situation and move forward."
During the brief stay in Panama, Oceans of Hope is tucked in a protective marina at Punta Culebra. Following a crew rotation with six new MS patients coming aboard, the bright saffron-colored yacht will head off again, skirting the coast of Columbia and mainland Ecuador, before heading east to the Galapagos Islands. Other planned stops along the global route include Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, and Barcelona along with several other stops in Europe. 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.
Video highlights of the Panama Canal crossing: http://youtu.be/J4XE9U8XEgY
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About Oceans of Hope:
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.
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.
About the Sailing Sclerosis Foundation
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."