On the gorgeous Sunday afternoon of September 6, a friend and I had the pleasure of attending the Alpen Wine Festival in Squaw Valley. Benefiting Can Do MS, this is their 27th year of holding the festival at Squaw, and each year it continues to grow, with 2015 being the largest year yet with tastings from over 40 local to international vineyards, live music, and a silent auction.
I’ll be honest with you, until this event, I had never even heard of the Alpen Wine Festival. But, I am always one to enjoy a good wine tasting, so with high hopes I happily jumped on this opportunity. I was not disappointed. First, it’s hard to find a more beautiful atmosphere to host a festival than the Village at Squaw. With it’s gorgeous backdrop of the rugged Sierras, trees beginning their vivid fall transformation, and the steady trek of the Gondola, you feel more like you’re in a small European Village than a 1.5 hours from Reno. My friend and I happily sipped wine from vineyards located all over the world wine while the gentle strumming of live guitar and vocals drifted above. We were dully impressed with the silent auction, which offered prizes from jewelry, hotel stays, spa vacations, and wine. My friend even won her bid so we get to enjoy her wine purchase for a while to come. Yes, I had a glorious afternoon.
Choosing Squaw to host this amazing festival was no mistake. After all, it’s founder was an avid skier here. Can Do MS, formerly The Jimmie Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis, was started in 1984. It’s founder, former high-caliber athlete Jimmie Heuga (1943-2010), received a MS diagnosis at the height of his athletic career. Keeping with the knowledge of the time, Jimmie was told to avoid physical activities in order to manage his condition and make sure it didn’t worsen. He was sentenced to a sedentary life. For the athlete Jimmie was, this was unacceptable, so he created his own exercise and nutritional program that would allow him to live the way he wanted. After seeing the positive results in his own illness, he became determined to share it with others. Thus Can Do MS was born.
Can Do MS helps over 10,000 people living with MS across the U.S. experience activities we often take for granted. They have free seminars that focus on all aspects of life with MS, from dealing with fatigue to depression. They encourage individuals to Take Charge of their illness and live your best life possible. Then there’s the newest event called the Vertical Express which offers an adaptive ski experience so activities like enjoying a day on the slopes are no longer out-of-reach. Most importantly, all of these experiences and services are offered completely free-of-charge. The inability to pay for an event is never a prevention from participating. This includes airfare and lodging, so someone living with MS in Boston, MA can be flown out to Squaw Valley, CA to experience all the beautiful Sierras has to offer and not have to worry about how they will afford the trip
That is why the Alpen Wine Festival and fundraising events like them are so important for Can Do MS. Without them, they cannot provide the services individuals need. Last year, the Alpen Wine Festival raised $36,000 and had over 900 people in attendance. From the amount of people I saw last Sunday, I can only assume this year will bring more.
But, lucky for us Reno locals, our chance to enjoy wine and food with Can Do MS, all while helping an important cause, is not over. The 15th Annual Winter Wine & Ski Expo at the Atlantis Casino will be on November 19, 2015 from 6pm-9pm. With more than 40 wineries and microbreweries in attendance, the top of Reno’s growing foodie cultural providing the food, and a silent auction with over 150 items to bid on, this event is not to be missed.
Without a doubt, Can Do MS and it’s Lifestyle Empowerment Programs are building a better future for those living with MS, those who support individuals with MS, and those yet to be diagnosed. Knowing there are programs like these, available free of charge, for those stricken with this devastating disease is such a great hope and inspiration. Can Do MS is definitely deserving of as much support as we can provide. I am proud to have visited the Alpen Wine Festival and I hope to see you at the Winter Wine & Ski Expo!
Do you have MS and would like to learn more about the services Can Do MS provides? Please visit www.mscando.org.
If you are interested in helping support Can Do MS, please visit https://www.mscando.org/donate/ to learn more.