What We’re About

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”


St. Augustine


Never Too Weak to Wander, a registered 501(c)(3), exists to help people with Multiple Sclerosis read more than one page.


Travel isn’t a necessity. Only thirty-percent of Americans have passports and 20-percent of us only take a vacation once every six years (although an equal number of us do take at least two vacations a year). But the point is that travel obviously isn’t a necessity.  There has yet to be a recorded death due to not seeing the Great Wall. Or from not ripping into a loaf of steaming sourdough while gawping at the Golden Gate Bridge. And no one has died because they haven’t stood beneath the Eiffel Tower suffering a crick in the neck to see up into its stubbornly intricate steel framework.


But neither is travel a luxury. Study after study has shown that travel – taking a vacation – is good for both physical and mental health. People who take vacations are less depressed than those who don’t. They also have less incidence of heart disease. Women who travel are more satisfied with their marriages. On a less quantitative level, travel not only teaches about the larger world, but also provides a connection to it. And that’s just talking about the general population.

For people who are chronically ill – let’s say the 400,000 Americans with Multiple Sclerosis, an incurable, unpredictable, degenerative disease that targets the central nervous system – travel does even more, making them a part of a world they often think is no longer accessible.


Never Too Weak to Wander exists to financially and logistically assist long-time and first-time travelers with MS see and experience the world. Never Too Weak to Wander works with each of its travel scholarship recipients to plan a trip that considers both their MS and their travel dreams.


To learn more about the scholarship process or apply for an Never Too Weak to Wander scholarship, check out the “Travel Scholarship Application” tab on this page. Never Too Weak to Wander hopes to grant its first scholarships for MS-friendly trips it has planned in early summer 2011.


Never Too Weak to Wander is excited to be working with Lori Schneider, the first person in the world with MS to have summitted Mt. Everest as well as the highest peaks on the other six continents,  and Empowerment Through Adventure too offer travel scholarships for climbers with MS to go on a trip to Africa’s Kilimanjaro in July 2011. Lori is calling the trip “Take a Leap of Faith in Africa! Kilimanjaro Climb 2011.”


Although Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world (at 19,340-feet tall), no prior climbing experience is necessary. What is necessary is a fair level of fitness and a can do attitude. People wishing to donate specifically to this Kilimanjaro climb should makes their checks payable to “Never Too Weak to Wander” and indicate on the check’s memo line “Kilimanjaro Climb.” For more details on the climb and Lori, click on either of the above links.


About MS


The only thing predictable about Multiple Sclerosis is its unpredictability. Although the cause of MS and a cure remain elusive, it is thought to be an autoimmune disorder. MS attacks the myelin that protects the optic nerves and the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in unprotected spots and scarred areas – called lesions — along a nerve. These scarred nerves are no longer able to properly conduct impulses, affecting the body’s ability to perform and function. For some people, these effects are permanent; for others, they eventually go away, sometimes completely, other times only partly. MS can strike anyone at any age. It does affect women more often than men and most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50 however. MS is blind to race, religion and economic group. It doesn’t seem to care what you eat and definitely doesn’t care about what TV shows you watch, where you want you travel, or what kind of car you drive. MS is indiscriminate with its devastation.


About Never Too Weak to Wander’s first major fundraising event: Biking for Better Odds


Biking for Better Odds plans to kick-off in the spring of 2011, approaching the fifth anniversary of Never Too Weak to Wander’s founder’s own MS diagnosis. Right now, the event’s calendar is wide open, so if you have a ride or race you’d like Dina to do, please contact her. She’ll need to find quite a few to get the 10,400 miles Biking for Better Odds hopes to cover between spring 2011 and spring 2012. That’s one mile for every American diagnosed with MS during that year. (Approximately 10,400 Americans are diagnosed with MS every year.)


During her 10,400-mile quest, Dina Mishev, Never Too Weak to Wander’s founder, plans on hitting each of the 50 states, doing races, fun rides, organized cycling tours, and BikeMS rides. She thinks she will be the first person with MS to do a BikeMS ride in each of the 48 states that has one in one year. It’s a good thing she loves road biking and traveling almost as much as she loves cookie dough.


Biking for Better Odds’ itinerary is far from set, so Dina welcomes suggestions and invitations to ride and speak about Never Too Weak to Wander and traveling and living with MS in the U.S. and abroad. Until www.bikingforbetterodds.org is up and running – which, knowing Dina’s non-existent experience with creating a website will be longer than she hopes, you can reach Dina at dmishev@gmail.com.


The final 3,600-miles of Biking for Better Odds will be an east-west all-in-one-shot ride across the U.S. (And by “all-in-one-shot” Dina doesn’t mean that she won’t stop to sleep and eat, but that the ride won’t be broken up with any extended breaks or trips home to Wyoming.) During this last push, Dina plans on stopping in on as many of the first group of Never Too Weak to Wander’s travel scholarship winners as is possible.


Biking for Better Odds’ sponsors include Athleta and lots of fantabulous, generous, and overall awesome individuals and companies to come.


HOW TO DONATE


A check sent through the mail always works.  Make checks payable to “Never Too Weak to Wander” and send them to NTWTW at P.O. Box 4424, Jackson, WY 83001.


We can also do Paypal:


In return, you’ll not only have our eternal thanks, but also receive a receipt you can take to your accountant. Since Never Too Weak to Wander is a registered 501(c)(3), all donations made to the organization are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. Thanks in advance.


And lastly: About Dina Mishev


A 2010 Athleta Featured Athlete (along with nine other amazing women) Dina Mishev has been living and writing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming since 1997. In February 2009, she set a Guinness World Record for the most vertical feet skied uphill by a woman in 24 hours.


A graduate of Northwestern University with degrees in Math and Economics, Dina moved to Wyoming for a year immediately following college. The plan was to learn how to ski and then return to law school on the East Coast the following fall. The latter part of that plan was thrown out the window within two weeks of her arrival in Jackson. The former part remains a work in progress. When snow is in short supply, Dina races her road bike, climbs, hikes, explores her adopted state via motorcycle, and makes cookie dough.


Dina was diagnosed with MS in June 2006 after four years of random-but-short spells of vertigo and blurry vision. She started an approved therapy within a week of her diagnosis. Today Dina remains as active as she ever has been, traveling around the world and competing in the same sports she always has. Her writing about travel, sports, adventure, gear, art, people, and lifestyle topics has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Sunset, AAA Via, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, The Chicago Tribune, Cooking Light, NWA World Traveler, and United Hemispheres as well as on the websites of and in the official Visitors’ Guides for Wyoming Tourism and Arizona Guide. Her first book, Wyoming Curiosities, was published by Globe Pequot in June 2007. You will be able to follow her Biking for Better Odds odyssey at www.bikingforbetterodds.org … but again, not until she’s gotten that site up and running.


Old Bill’s Fun Run


Beginning in 2010, NTWTW is participating in Old Bill’s Fun Run, a fundraiser that allows up to $25,000 of donations made to NTWTW to be matched at a percentage through the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole. If you are donating to NTWTW between July 4 and 5 p.m. September 17, we ask that you do so through the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole so that it an be matched through Old Bill’s.  See the Old Bill’s Fun Run Page for more information.



Responses

  1. Hello Dina! Greetings from Wisconsin. I just revisited your website and am still inspired by your story and your organization. Can I add a link to your website on mine, so that more people can hear about the great things you are doing? Thanks for all you do to help change the face of MS, one wanderer at a time. Believe in your dreams and travel on!
    -Lori

    • Hello, not sure who gets this but I would really like to contact Lori. I’m so glad I heard of her, 2 and a half years ago I walked to ABC in the Himalayas Nepal on my own, it was the best thing i’d ever done, I wanted to spend the rest of my life climbing mountains (i’m 40). Just over 1 year ago I was diagnosed with MS and I feel my dreams may be over. I’m still walking loads but worried about my stamina, I need a kick up the arse!! Lost all my confidence. Hope someone can help. ( I just ordered ‘Feel the Fear and do it Anyway’)!! Thank you to anyone who can reply, Karen

  2. Loved your story. I was officially dx in April 09 but neuro admits misdiagnosing me in 2002 and another neuro misdiagnosed in 1996. I rode my Fat Boy Harley Davidson 3600 miles from Portland Oregon to Tupelo MS in 2006. Looking back, some problems almost brought me down that were due to MS—getting caught in Topeka rush hours still in mountain cold clothing while the temperature was above 85 for example–but I made it back, and I am still riding my own!

    • Patty, I picked up a new BMW 650 GS the same day I got my official diagnosis from a neurologist! Bikes are the best. (My town doesn’t have one so I had to go to a big city.) Sorry your diagnosis was such a pain; I’m sure it’s somewhat of a relief now though — you weren’t going crazy with all thise weird symptoms. I’m glad to hear you’re still riding. Thanks for checking the site out. I can’t wait to really get this nonprofit up and going.

      • I really am glad I didn’t know those 13 yrs. For me, it was not a relief to get a dx because I wasn’t trying to find out about anything but numbness in my hands. Just a nuisance especially when riding. Absolutely no disabilty. Not knowing all those years let me ride carefree.
        I saw lots of specialists during those years and no one picked up on it. I do not say that like I think they should have. On the contrary, that is the nature of the beast. It is so difficult to detect its presence until it really takes a big bite! I know now how tough MS is to diagnose initially. Especially in a person is at the top of fitness for their age and running full steam until sundown. I was referred to my neuro for carpal tunnel in 2002. Neuro was only asked to do the nerve conduction tests which were normal. I only came in for that one symptom in my hands and the referring ortho only asked him to do the peripheral nerve study, so was not doing a neuro workup. No reason for him to have suspected MS at the time he did the test. I wasn’t there for a regular workup. Looking back, I can see why no one put it together until I was eval by my neuro the 2nd time in April. He has been great. If anyone should have picked up on the symptoms, it should have been me as a PT. But my neuro knew immediately when I went in this spring with the one MRI my regular doc sent him. Even with only that one symptom that he knew about, he picked up on the MS immediately. He was surprised that I didn’t have the clinical appearance expected. Only in looking back do I recognize all the crazy stuff in my life MS was doing to me. None of it was visible to anyone. He took a lot of time to go over my tests and was honest with me. We are blessed to have the great neuro group we have here. My neuro has close ties with Mayo and really stays up on MS. He is the one who talked me into starting meds. I didn’t think I needed them because I didn’t feel sick.
        Yep, bikes are great unless you lay yours down! I flipped mine a couple of years ago and almost broke my neck. I admire you for getting one when you found out. Because I knew what MS was capable of doing to me, I doubt I would have gotten it after the dx. But I hope I can keep riding until I decide I am too old and gray. You are so right to determine to pursue life regardless of this one bump–though a big one—in the road!

  3. Is there anything you CAN’T do! Good Lord! I didn’t even know you had this idea a-brewin’ in your smart head.
    What an amazing leader and inventor you are! We are behind you 100%!!!!

    • She can’t make cookies and NOT eat the dough. Otherwise, I think there are no limits.

      • Tim, actually now that I’m trying the whole gluten free thing, I’ve got to learn to do just that. Since I fear that very well might be a lesson beyond me though, so far I’ve found it easiest to put all my cookie-making on hold!

  4. Like most of you, I was diagnosed with MS. On Sept. 11, 2003, I received the news that my life was changing in more ways than I could ever imagine. After working for 20+ years as a medical sonographer, and frequently taking medical mission trips to underserved countries, I was frightenend that I may never travel again. Instead I became impowered. I decided that MS would not have me, and that I would live with MS, and be in control of it. Well, I have learned that that is always not possible. I have returned to my beloved travel to Nepal, at least 5 times in the last 7 years since my diagnosis. I have founded and organized a non-profit organization, dedicated to the health care and well being of underserved women, Hands for Humanity, Inc. This exceptional group of people, travel to rural areas around the world to train medical professionals, how to use ultrasound.

    There is nothing that will stop us…it may just take a little longer.

    Peace and Namaste!

    Lonnie

    • Lonnie,

      Thanks for sharing your story. And thanks for the work you do with underserved women around the world. You sound like an amazing person. I’m glad to hear you’re gallavanting around the world even more since your diagnosis. Nepal is one of my favorite places as well.
      Dina


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