Six people wearing mountain clothing pose next to signs indicating Uhuru Peak of Kilimanjaro

The team at Uhuru Peak

“My mom was diagnosed with MS when she was pregnant with my older sister. She was 26 years old, recently married and had just graduated in physiotherapy. With a one year old to look after and another baby coming, having MS wasn’t the easiest curve ball life could have thrown her way.

32 years have passed and a lot has happened over the years. The disease went from relapsing-remitting to progressive and life became more challenging. It is a tough condition to overcome. There are days when you are down, with low energy and highly emotional, while other days you feel as well as anybody else. It’s also hard to accept that some bodily functions will become weaker and certain tasks that once came so naturally will become more difficult.

The thing about my mom that always blew me away is that she lives life with more drive and energy than most people I know. She has never accepted defeat. She joined ALSEP – Association of Lebanese Friends of People with MS and has been a very active member, fighting to improve the support available for people with MS and their families. Seeing how much she cares and helps people around her has motivated me to do something as well to help.

I got the idea to climb Kilimanjaro, and a group of friends quickly became excited about the project. Mamdouh, Moe, Tarek and I are living in Dubai and Adel is in New York. We met in Tanzania on the 25th of December, started the climb bright and early on December 27th and finished on the 4th of January.

It was a great experience, and I actually got engaged at the top! Quite a memorable hike altogether.

We chose to raise funds for the MS International Federation for two reasons. Firstly because my mom knows the organisation well, through volunteering for the Association of Lebanese Friends of People with MS, which has been supported by MSIF. Secondly, while I was living in Montreal I was also involved with another member of the federation, the MS society of Canada.

I set up a fundraising page on JustGiving – on the first few days I was anxiously waiting for donations, so it felt amazing to see them starting to come in. We ended up raising over $3000, all of which will go to research, with the hope of one day finding a cure for this disease, and to support the national MS organisations that improve the quality of life of people struggling with MS everywhere.”

If you would like to know more about how you can get involved with the MS International Federation’s work, do have a look at our dedicated website page, or just get in touch with us.

A woman sat in a chair speaks into a microphone while others sit listening in the background

Vanessa's mother, Rhind at an MSIF Board meeting

Five men and a young woman pose during a mountain hike

The group during the hike

A young woman sits in an open tent under a tree, with a mountain top in the background

Vanessa in her tent

A man kneels in front of a woman to propose at the top of a mountain

Vanessa and Tarek getting engaged at the top