Thursday, September 7, 2017

Shannon Birkmann walks across Alberta to help find a cure for MS

Shannon Birkmann taking a long walk
Toni Lucas - Shannon Birkmann of Calgary is on day seven of her "On Foot Across Alberta, A Journey to find a Cure" walk.  The walk in is support of a friend who is afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). "Last year, one of my friends contacted me looking for motivation. They have MS, and I really didn't know what to do, because I can't cure it. But I wanted to help them, and I wanted to make a positive impact, and I definitely wanted to motivate them. This is what I came up with, I would walk across Alberta."

Approaching Frank Slide
She started Friday September 1 on Highway 3 at the Saskatchewan border.  She passed by Pincher Creek late last night. She  entered the Crowsnest Pass area at around 4:00 pm today, with many kilometres of highway behind her, and decided to stay there for the night. The smoke and heat has been getting to her during her journey, particularly today, September 7.  If everything goes as planned, she will finish her journey at the British Columbia border on Friday, September 8.  Friends will meet her at her journey's conclusion.

This is a self financed trip, and she has friends who are keeping in contact with her along the way. She has been camping when necessary. Birkmann started planning this trip a year ago. In June she competed in a bodybuilding contest. After the contest was over she then switched to a regimen of increased carbs and cardio work for the final stage of preparation. "As long as your feet are comfortable, that is a big thing." She said that was something she recognized before, but is now living on the walk. "I find it easier to travel at night, because it's not so hot, and there's a lot less traffic." Even though she had a good idea how much she could travel in gym conditions, she gave herself extra time to deal with the realities of the road. "I took two weeks off, because I didn't know how long it would take me. So I guess I get a week to recover."

"The smoke is kind of getting to me today, though."

"I have had a lot of people stopping and seeing if I need a ride, and I have been telling them what I have been doing. So yesterday, I made over $100 in donations." She said that almost everyone she has talked to said they know someone affected by MS, and some have it themselves. "It's been pretty motivational for me, and educational." She said in Bow Island a woman was moved to tears on hearing Birkmann's story, and shared with her that her brother recently passed away from MS. "This is affecting so many people."

She sees arriving at the B.C. border as a major milestone for both the walk and her life. "There will be tears."

"I am thinking tomorrow, when I actually hit the border, it will be pretty emotional. It's been a good journey. I have met so many amazing people. I don't think I would change this journey for anything."  

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