Intro / Background
In this episode of the Win the Day Podcast Becky chats with the great Ashley Schneider. Ashley is founder and current executive director of MS Run the US, a non-profit organization. The organization helps individuals living with Multiple Sclerosis.
Prior to starting MS Run the US Ashley owned a health and fitness business. She now lives near Milwaukee Wisconsin with her husband and 3 children.
As founder, Ashley ran 3,288 miles across America by herself for the non-profit in 2010. In doing so, she became the 16th female runner to ever run across america. She then spearheaded America’s only relay race across the country in 2013. Since then, the org has raised over $2.3 million, run over 25,000 miles and helped over 137 everyday runners realize their potential through the relay platform.
Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects how your brain communicates with your body, specifically regarding the central nervous system. The brain, spinal cord and optic nerves all play a part in this. The manner in which the disease attacks different areas in the central nervous system shows up in varying symptoms, which differ case by case.
Ashely is the third of four siblings and has been running since a young age. Her mom got news of a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis in 1980 before Ashley was born. At the time, there was not much known about MS.
Running, Grit and Being Mortal
Ashley found running to be an escape and place of refuge when dealing with her mom’s diagnosis and declining condition. Running and sports in general can force one to spend time in their own head, confronting or escaping areas of their life while building grit.
After college, Ashley got a job on cruise ships traveling the world as a rock climbing and surf instructor. At this time, Ashley considered herself a recreational runner, running 3-5 miles 5 days a week. While running in Barcelona during a stop she realized she had seen and ran in many great international cities, but had not seen much of the United States.
It was in that moment Ashley thought to connect the idea between running across the entire US while raising money for the MS community and her mom to make a difference and in hopes to help find a cure. Running and raising money for MS was Ashley marrying her purpose and passion. Due to her mom’s diagnosis the idea of not being able to drive or walk someday was not foreign or ignored. In a way Ashley says she “grew up mortal” and had the notion that you should do what you want right then because you may lose the ability to do so.
MS Run the US
Ashley left her job on the cruise ship, and moved back home so she could start mapping the course across the country and make her plans to raise $500,000.
Running across the entire US is no small feat. Ashley would train, putting in 13-16 miles daily, testing if her body would hold up over the 3,000+ miles. She would plan to do a full marathon daily for 6 out of 7 days and rest on the last day. 15 months after quitting her job, she left the west coast and headed for New York on the journey.
Instead of $500,000 raised the total came in around $56,000 by the time Ashley reached New York. It was not time to give up just because one goal wasn’t reached. (In fact, the organization has now raised over $2.3 million dollars to date!) This led to the realization that Ashley could get other runners to join her and she would move outside her network and tap into others in order to raise larger amounts of money and awareness for MS.
Now, the race is run in 19 segments as a relay race. Each segment is 6 marathons in 6 days and individuals aim to raise $10,000 for MS. The organization aids people in training for the 160 miles, as well as resources to raise the $10,000. The race will be run virtually this year and is in its 10th year!’
If interested, visit Msruntheus.org where applications are open right now, and they are also actively looking for sponsors.
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