Name:

 

Lori Schneider

Country of residence:

 

USA

Age:

 

55

Occupation:

 

Inspirational Speaker/Mountain Climber

Who is accompanying you on the Kilimanjaro climb?

 

My 79 year old father, Neal Schneider will be my partner. My father and I climbed Kilimanjaro together for the first time in 1993, reaching the summit on his 61st birthday. We are very excited to return to Africa and share this empowering experience with others.

When were you diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis?

 

 

My official diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis came in January of 1999, but I had been experiencing the symptoms of MS since 1993, when I first climbed Kilimanjaro. Then I was told I had an “autoimmune disorder”.

How has your diagnosis affected your life?

 

When I was first diagnosed with MS I ran away from my life in fear. I left a 22 year marriage, a 20 year teaching career, sold my house, left my community, and tried to run from my MS diagnosis. I began to climb the mountains of the world, fearing I would lose the mobility of my legs one day. Through climbing, I regained my strength and courage, and I no longer run from my diagnosis. MS has given me the mental strength to face daily challenges. My life is better in many ways because of my MS, and the lessons it has taught me about following my dreams.

What is your current level of physical disability (if any)?

 

 

I am one of the lucky ones with MS, because mine is very stable right now. I experience problems with balance, along with slight numbness and tingling in my fingers and face occasionally. Periodically I have flair ups of optic neuritis causing vision darkening in my eyes.

Please provide a history of your disease and how the disease is now affecting your life?

 

 

In January of 1999, I woke up in the morning and half of my body had gone numb overnight. The doctors feared the worst and tested me for stroke, lupus, MS, and cancer. My MS diagnosis took three months to confirm, during which time the numbness had spread to my entire body. It was accompanied by muscle spasms, tightening in the chest, and vision loss. With treatment the symptoms eventually subsided, allowing me to get back to a more normal life. Over the years, I have experienced optic neuritis flare-ups in 1999, 2006, 2010, and 2011. Today, my body is feeling healthy and my MS does not limit me. I have developed very few new lesions on the brain since my original MRIs, so the disease has slowed its progression in my body at this point. My life is active and I feel healthy once again, both physically and mentally.

What are your current views/feelings of your life with Multiple Sclerosis?

 

 

 

I feel blessed to be given this chance to reinvent my life and rediscover my dreams. Fear of losing my physical ability actually gave me the strength to pursue new physical goals in my life, like mountain climbing. Now I want to help empower others to live their own dreams, and climb beyond the obstacles we set for ourselves when we are given a diagnosis like MS or Parkinson’s disease.

How have your relationships with your family/personal/friend relationships been affected by your diagnosis?

 

My family has grown closer through this diagnosis. I am blessed with a family that has always been very supportive. When I was diagnosed, they encouraged me in many ways. My three brothers and their families continue to help me in my life. Before her death in 2002, my mother was my biggest ‘fan’. She helped me deal with the emotional issues I faced when being diagnosed. I still miss her terribly. My father and I have also grown closer through my diagnosis and the mountain climbing experiences we have shared. We are able to provide encouragement for each other, and that is a true friendship.

What has motivated you to take part in the Kilimanjaro climb?

 

 

My decision to coordinate an MS/PD climb came from a desire to help others with a neurodegenerative disease regain their emotional strength. We all need to take back that mental control that the label of a disease can often rob from us. My wish for this trip is to give hope to our team and others watching, that they can still pursue dreams in their own life.

What is your previous experience of hiking/climbing?

 

 

1993 Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa 19,340 ft.

1993 Ruwenzori Mountains, East Africa 13,000 ft.

1993 Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Asia 17,771 ft.

1994 Torres del Paine, South America 100 mile circuit

1998 Haute Route, Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland 110 miles

2000 Mt. Aconcagua, Chile, South America 22,841 ft.

2000 Mera Peak, Nepal, Asia 21,247 ft.

2002 Mt. Elbrus, Russia, Europe 18,540 ft.

2005 Ixta Volcano, Mexico 17,200 ft.

2005 Nevado de Toluca Volcano, Mexico 15,000 ft.

2006 Denali/McKinley Alaska, North America 20,320 ft.

2008 Vinson Massif, Antarctica 16,067 ft.

2009 Mt. Everest, Nepal, Asia 29,035 ft.

2011 Kilimanjaro Africa MS/PD/Companion

Leap Of Faith Climb

2011 and Beyond… Big Dreams!

 

 

What are your aspirations/hopes for the Kilimanjaro climb?

 

 

My hope is that all 29 climbers in our group reach their own personal summit, reminding themselves that they are stronger than they ever imagined, both mentally and physically!

What hopes/aspirations do you have planned following the Kilimanjaro climb?

 

 

My hope is to encourage others around the world to empower themselves and others to move beyond the barriers in their mind.

Please highlight any other achievements you have made since your diagnosis

 

 

In 2009, I became the first person with MS to summit Mt. Everest and the first with MS to complete the Seven Summits, defined as the highest point on each of the seven continents. It was an honor to carry the World MS Day Flag as well as the hopes and dreams of all of us with MS, all the way to the top of the world!

What would you say to other people who are living with MS?

 

 

Don’t be afraid to try. When diagnosed with an often debilitating disease, we are sometimes afraid to step outside of the normal boundaries in our life. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and try something that is of interest to you. All of your dreams don’t have to be physical ones. Don’t be afraid to dream BIG.