All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for January 2003

Man proves disease can't keep him down

January 22nd, 2003
Register Staff Writer

Greg Dunn climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa in four days, living on broth and four hours of sleep at night.

He did it to inspire others who have his disease.

"I wanted to accomplish this for other people with multiple sclerosis to see that the glass is half full," he said Monday in a phone interview with The Des Moines Register from Africa. "I wanted to help. Everybody doesn't have to end up in a wheelchair."

Dunn, 50, of Cedar Rapids, who ran the Chicago Marathon in 1991 and climbed to the base camp of Mount Everest in 2000, said climbing Kilimanjaro was the hardest thing he has done. The peak of the Tanzanian mountain is 19,341 feet high.

Dunn began climbing Jan. 15. He climbed an average of 3,000 feet a day in temperatures ranging from 20 degrees to below zero. He finished his climb Sunday at Gilman's Point, on the rim of the crater, at 18,635 feet.

"I just wanted people with multiple sclerosis to know that normal lives could be lived," he said. "All of us have our own challenges in life."

Dunn said that during his climb, he felt like giving up many times. He understands his trip isn't a feasible goal for everyone.

"We all climb mountains every day, our own mountains," he said. "For someone crippled to walk down the driveway is just as big of a mountain as mine."

Multiple sclerosis affects the body's central nervous system. In Dunn's case, it causes fatigue and his right side to be numb at times. He takes medication that slows the disease's progression and reduces the number of relapses.

His son Bobby, 16, is overjoyed for his father.

"I was so excited for him," Bobby said. "He had so much fun climbing Mount Everest."

Bobby misses his father but understands his mission - and has learned a lesson, too: "To do the best with what you are dealt," he said.

The climb was led by Chuck Huss of Iowa City, a climbing expert. Now that the journey is over and Dunn has had a hot bath, he plans to enjoy some of the sights of Africa for a few days before heading home.

Then he plans on staying put in Iowa for a while. "I just want to get back and be with my family," he said.

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