By Sean Wingrave
On Remembrance Day 2006, I was at work. That was the day the entire right side of my body went numb. Right away I was off to the hospital—I was worried I had had a stroke. Instead I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
As part of my recovery from that relapse, I began running. I started slow by challenging myself to walk around the block, which then turned into short runs and over time longer distances. About two and a half years after I was diagnosed with MS, I was running my first half marathon, and then two more after that. Running has become part of my fight against the disease.
While I run, I have crazy daydreams. One of my recurring dreams was to run around North America to raise awareness of MS. When I expressed the idea to my wife, Andrea, she was concerned about spending a few years following me in a van around the continent with our two young children. Obviously, that daydream wasn’t going to become a reality.
Then, while in a pool during a vacation in Mexico, we came up with an idea that seemed more achievable: running the day-one route of the Leduc to Camrose MS Bike tour. I don’t know if it was the heat or the tequila, but at the time it seemed like a great idea to run more than 70 kilometres in a single day to raise money for people like me who live with MS. Prior to committing to the run, I asked my neurologist if it could cause complications with my MS—he said I was in the clear. He also said, “If you’re actually going to do this, big guy, I’m coming with you.” I was pleasantly surprised by the response, which was just the first of many in the coming months. In the lead up to the run, I shared my story on TV and radio, and I exceeded my expectations of raising awareness of MS in and around Edmonton. I also surpassed my goal to raise $5,000 and was completely blown away when I managed to raise more than $23,000!
On May 23, 2015, the first annual “Really Long Run to End MS” took place. There were many things about the run I couldn’t have foreseen. For one, I couldn’t have predicted 28-degree weather at the end of May. I also certainly couldn’t have guessed that there would be people crazy enough to run with me. I ran for 12 hours, with people joining me along the way for various parts of the run. By the end, almost 30 people had run various stages, including aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and people I had never met before the day of the run. If you want to know if there are good people in the world, there are. Trust me—I’ve seen their faces.