Jessica Spahn (Anderson)
Relay Runner for MS Run the US
What: The MS Run the US – 2014 Relay is a 3,000-mile relay run across America to help raise awareness and funds to help CURE multiple sclerosis (MS)! The Relay begins April 13th, 2014 in Los Angeles, CA and is completed August 17th, 2014 in New York, NY.
Sixteen (16) runners have been selected to individually run on average 170 miles over 6 consecutive days during their assigned segment. Each runner dedicates a week of running on the road with the Relay, while collectively the event spans a distance and duration of 3,000-miles run in 4 months in an effort to raise $500,000 to help cure multiple sclerosis More information at: http://www.msruntheus.com/
Hometown: Eagle, Wisconsin
Current Location: La Porte, Texas
Segment: 4th Segment: Milford, Utah (May 5th) to Nephi, Utah (May 9th)
I am a daughter to two very supportive parents, a sister to three amazing brothers, an aunt to 12 beautiful nieces & nephews, a friend to whoever needs one, a newlywed wife to the most caring & loving man I have ever known….I am many things, but one thing I am not is…crazy. As you can imagine, I’ve been called that once or twice as I was contemplating signing up as a relay runner. However, there is a rhyme & a reason for EVERYTHING I do.
So, what is my rhyme & reason for taking on this challenge that some would call “crazy” & running 140 miles in 5 days???
Well, here comes the BIG secret that not many people know…even the ones that THINK they know me…
I have MS...
I found out April 29, 2008. I remember it like it was yesterday; down to the last detail. Hearing the words; “You have MS” was the hardest 3 words I ever had to endure. Receiving a diagnosis that you have a permanent & possibly debilitating disease that you know absolutely nothing about at the age of 22 was devastating to say the least. It did however, answer alot of previously unanswered questions....Why was my back numb? Why was my stomach burning from just the soft contact with my shirt when its appearance looked perfectly normal? Why was trying to lightly wash my body in the shower hurting my skin so much? Why was my left arm not moving even though I was telling it to? Before I knew the answer; I thought I had gone insane.
However, since it is now almost 6 years later, I am able to reminisce & tell you that MS hasn’t slowed me down one bit. I haven't let it. It actually has motivated & probably helped me. You see, the hardest part for me then & even now has been not knowing when it will take its full toll on me, if ever.
Prior to being diagnosed, I loved being active. My favorite things were running, biking, kayaking, camping, climbing, & to prove my point even more I was in the process of completing a master’s degree program for clinical exercise physiology. So you can imagine, when I did officially receive my diagnosis I was absolutely heartbroken. I couldn’t stop wondering how I could continue doing my favorite things with this new “label”.
It wasn’t long before I decided that I wasn’t going to let this “label” define me. In August of 2008, a team of my family & friends came together & we participated in our first MS 150. We now participate in this event on an annual basis. Personally, I began running in 5Ks which would eventually lead to marathons. To continue with this sense of euphoria, I will share that since I relocated to Texas in 2010, I have been predominantly symptom free & in remission. I have been able to be off of the daily Copaxone injection & the only “remedies” I use to help ensure avoiding a relapse are: I eat healthy, exercise, take Vitamin D supplements, & read when I feel stressed. So far, the doctors are astounded with my success.
I’ve definitely had some trying times in my life, but right now at this precise moment, I am on top of the world & feel like I can accomplish anything. Life has been recently predominantly consumed with work and marrying the man of my dreams on February 8th. My new husband has been nothing less than a gift from God through every step of our relationship & the decision to participate as a relay runner for MS Run the US was made together. We are hoping our first year as husband and wife will be nothing less than a spectacular team effort that we will be able to talk about and remember for the rest of our lives.
I am running because the first time the doctor mentioned MS to me; I didn’t even know what it was. I am running because I’m hoping I can make a difference. I am running because there are people out there that can’t & wish they could.
I am also running for fear of the unknown. One day, I may be one of those people that can’t, so while I can; I will. I’m not saying it won’t be hard, but I am saying; it is not impossible.
So I completed my 140 mile journey in Utah on May 9th & I can now look back & say it was one of the greatest experiences I ever had. I learned so much about myself as well as others. The journey had its definitive up & down moments where I was forced to press on despite my body relentlessly begging me to stop. My heart & mind had to take over when my body had given up. The messages & phone calls I received on my journey were what kept my will alive & showed me that I was doing something that individuals admired & I was truly being what I always wanted to be….an inspiration. It was one of the most wonderful feelings I’ve ever experienced.
Well, the training & running may be over for me, but the journey is far from over. Multiple Sclerosis did not disappear when I crossed the finish line. Multiple Sclerosis still exists as a gloomy demon in my medical record. Multiple Sclerosis still exists as a permanent scar for hundreds of thousands of individuals every day of their life.
When I applied to be a relay runner I pledged to raise a minimum of $10,000 to fight against this terrible disease & with overwhelming support from Wisconsin, Illinois, & all the way down to Texas I have been very successful in my fundraising efforts, but unfortunately I still need to make it to the other finish line. A few more runners remain that will bring the MS Run the US relay that started in Los Angeles, California all the way to the final destination of New York City on August 17th. Please help me in reaching the other finish line.
God Bless all of you whose names are below & all those that remain behind the scenes!!!