2018 will be an exciting year for Mastering Mountains; we have two new grant recipents, overseas travel planned, interviews, articles and introducing the newest member of the Mastering Mountains Team: Liz Gasson. She is our Communications Manager, in charge of bringing you interesting stories, information, support, encouragement and events. We hope that you are as excited about the new year as we are. ~ Mastering Mountains Team
I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Liz Gasson and I am the newest member of the Mastering Mountains team. I am so excited to be involved with this amazing organisation; helping people with MS to be as physically active and healthy as possible and accomplish their dream physical goals! I truly believe that we, as a community, are stronger together and I look forward to working along-side you all, listening and reporting your stories, helping you to achieve your goals and support you during the hard times. I look forward to being a part of the Mastering Mountains community!
I wanted to tell you all a bit about myself:
I have always had an inherent connection with anything outdoors. I have been a rock-climbing, white water rafting, abseiling, canyoning and kayaking instructor, surf life saver, runner, swimmer, soccer player, horse rider and basketball coach. I designed rock climbing harnesses for children in wheelchairs and was a teacher for children with disabilities in the USA. I worked as a field case worker for Group Special Education, Ministry of Education, and then a part-time lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington. I have an undergraduate degree in Education, Masters in Communication and I am currently doing a PhD in educational Psychology. My passion is helping people with disabilities to find a way to learn and do things that they love.
I have always considered myself to be strong, but not always in the best of health. In 2005, I was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, however, the doctors, retrospectively, believe that my first attack was in 1992. I have had periods of time where MS has made me very unwell with severe relapses. At times, I have been disabled enough to need a wheelchair. In 2017, after a 7-year waiting period, I was officially awarded an Assistance dog, Paddy, who has been trained specifically to help me and my particular needs.
When Paddy first joined our family, I was at the beginning of the worst relapse I have had to date. He has been the most amazing, nurse, helper, friend, wheelchair puller and pillow! My first goal that I focused on while I was sick was: to get stronger and be able to enjoy Paddy’s company as he helps me train, get stronger and eventually be able to run a half marathon. And so, 7 months on from my attack – Paddy and I will do our first half marathon. I am so excited!
Even through the worst of times, I have been determined to fight MS by using my love for physical activity, the outdoors and my determination not to miss any adventures. I truly believe that being outdoor, eating well and physical activity will help keep me strong and as healthy as I possibly can be.
One of my values is: “there is always a way, you just have to find it”.