MS Walk remedy of sorts for one participant |

MS Walk remedy of sorts for one participant

Patty Heydenberk of Carbondale was diagnosed two years ago with multiple sclerosis. Through diet and exercise, thanks in part to a winning draw at the Glenwood Springs Walk MS last year, she has not experienced a progression of the debilitating disease and will be participating in this Saturday's event.
John Stroud / Post Independent |

Glenwood MS Walk & 5k

When: Saturday, May 20 (7 a.m. registration, 8 a.m. 5K, 9 a.m. ceremony and 9:30 a.m. walk)

Where: Glenwood Springs High School, 1521 Grand Ave.

Why: Walk MS unites families, friends, neighbors and co-workers to raise funds that drive ground-breaking research, provide life-changing services and guarantee a supportive community for those who need it most.

More info: Visit, call 855-372-1331 or email

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million worldwide.

Source: National MS Society

A winning ticket in the prize drawing at the 2016 Walk MS event in Glenwood Springs turned out to be just the ticket in Patty Heydenberk’s efforts to battle the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis.

After being diagnosed with MS two years ago, the Carbondale resident decided to participate in the local Walk MS event to help raise awareness and funding for medical research into the devastating disease.

When her name was called as the winner of a 30-day trial to work with personal trainer Sandro Torres, owner of Custom Body Fitness in Carbondale, it changed Heydenberk’s life for the better.

Already, she had modified her diet, cutting out gluten, dairy and sugar in addition to taking a relatively new medication that had proven effective for MS patients.

“I immediately found some improvement in the way I felt, and with some of the symptoms I was having,” she said. “My doctor also let me know that those dealing with MS can benefit by staying active.”

The fitness club trial turned out to be just the motivation she needed to add a more focused regimen of exercise to her routine.

“I was so dumbfounded with the results I had after those first 30 days that I became a member and now work out three to four days a week,” Heydenberk said.

She’s quick to point out, though, that what works for her may not work for other MS sufferers, because the disease can be very different for different people.

“I’m very proactive in everything that I’m doing, but I don’t want to take away from somebody else’s story, because MS is not the same for every person,” she said.

That’s one of the messages she wants to share as this year’s Walk MS event rolls around.

The annual event takes place this Saturday at Glenwood Springs High School. Registration begins at 7 a.m., with the 5K run at 8 a.m. and the walk at 9:30 a.m.

“I feel like the National MS Society is a huge resource and support for all of us dealing with MS,” Heydenberk said. “Whatever we need to find out, we can always go through them.”

Heydenberk was 55 when she was diagnosed with MS, which is a few years outside the usual age range but not uncommon, she said. She had started physical therapy for an old knee injury when she noticed numbness from her waist down and later in her hands.

“At first I kind of ignored it, thinking it was just my muscles getting used to firing again,” she said. “As it continued to progress to optic neuritis, I went to see my eye doctor who wanted me to see an ophthalmologist, who suggested a MRI.

“It was quite a shock,” she said of learning of her diagnosis. “But I really focused on doing research as much as possible to try to improve my situation.”

She goes in for check-ups every six months, and so far there has been no progression, she said.

Heydenberk continues her work as an executive assistant for Sunrise Co. in Aspen, though she did have to give up her part-time career in fashion design to shed the stress of doing regular trunk shows in addition to her 40-hour-a-week job.

Besides her training sessions, she also takes regular hikes and walks and does yoga.

“I’ve found yoga to be very rewarding, and it helps calm me down,” she said.

Heydenberk has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley since 1987, including several years in Aspen before marrying Craig Heydenberk, owner of Environmental Services Inc., and moving to Carbondale in 2002.

She and her team of supporters will be wearing Custom Body Fitness sponsor T-shirts on Saturday, as they work to raise funds for MS research and awareness.

The Walk MS Glenwood Springs event is expected to raise more than $45,000 for the National MS Society.

In 2016, nearly 300,000 people participated at more than 550 Walk MS locations across the country, raising nearly $50 million, according to the National MS Society.

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