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Talking with The General

Written by on Jul 23, 2012

John KeefeWelcome to MS Challenge Talk, a weekly audio recording that introduces you to the people and stories behind MS Challenge Walk.

This week, host Ken Gagne speaks with John Keefe, known to many as "The General". With his military garb and drill sergeant-like demeanor, The General (or sometimes "Sarge") has been rallying the troops of MS Challenge Walk for more than a decade. In this interview, John commends walkers for not resting on the sidelines and instead doing something to find a cure for his bride's MS, and reflects on the heroes who have inspired him along the trail and the unique challenges that caretakers experience.

Welcome to MS Challenge Talk, a weekly audio recording that shares the stories and experiences of veterans of those who have walked three days and 50 miles to bring the world closer to a cure for multiple sclerosis, courtesy the National MS Society's MS Challenge Walk. You can subscribe to the show for free in Apple iTunes!

A few of my favorite things

Written by on Jul 24, 2009

Here's what about the MS Challenge Walk makes me smile and laugh:

  • Sarge yelling "Hoo-rah!"
  • Ralph, the "Hamburger Man", at rest stops saying "Thank you for walking for me."
  • Posing for Andrew and Steve in a funny pose, then  hear them say "Wait, do it again," only I can't move to strike the same pose.
  • I love watching the slide shows and hearing all the laughs, cheers, and "aw".
  • The hardest part of the Challenge Walk for me is climbing up into the top bunk bed, especially after 40 miles!
  • Walking, walking, walking, walking, then suddenly hearing the cheers, and clappers and whistles and knowing that a rest stop is near by.

    Jeannie & Melody Felton with Tracy DeBlois and Doug Lowe

  • The fantastic volunteers encouraging me as I trudge on and on, and each biker that passes late in the day says "You're almost there! It's right around the corner!"
  • Epsom salt foot soaks. Aaaahhhh!
  • Jeannie, Melody, and Tracy singing.
  • Hugs. Hugs. Hugs.
  • Checking out everyone's t-shirts.
  • Who doesn't love a parade?
  • Crossing that finish line one more time to say "Screw you, MS!"

Heather lives in Hampton, NH, and completed her first 50 miles in 2003 in honor of her great-grandmother who had MS. Ironically, she began having symptoms in 2004, and was finally diagnosed with MS in 2006. This will be her 6th walk, and her first as team captain of "All Smiles for 50 Miles". Heather recruited 7 friends to walk, and her mom to volunteer on the Crew. Heather is a pediatric physical therapist in NH.