Oceans of Hope, the 67-foot yacht undertaking the first circumnavigation with a working crew of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), has arrived in Auckland, New Zealand just in time to take part in the celebrations of MS Auckland’s 50th Anniversary.
Oceans of Hope sailed into The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron this morning at 11:45 a.m. local time to an enthusiastic dockside audience awaiting their arrival. Cheers ensued, champagne bottles popped and pennants were exchanged with MS Auckland.
The President of MS Auckland, Neil Woodhams, said he was delighted that the arrival of Oceans of Hope coincided with MS Auckland’s celebration of 50 years helping people with MS.
“We’ve achieved so much in recent years in increasing awareness of MS and improving treatment options for New Zealanders affected by MS. The arrival of the Oceans of Hope vessel gives us an additional reason to celebrate recent success and achievements,” said Mr Woodhams.
Danish doctor and psychotherapist Mikkel Anthonisen, the founder of The Sailing Sclerosis Foundation and the Oceans of Hope project who has also captained the yacht part-time during the voyage, made a toast to the crew.
”Oceans of Hope is about giving hope and providing possibilities to people living with MS. We want to create equal access to empowerment and to change the perception of what it is like to live with a chronic disabling disease. The crew can be proud of their achievement” said Mr Anthonisen.
Malcolm Rickerby, President of MS New Zealand said "Oceans of Hope is a truly unique demonstration of what people with MS can achieve via their dreams and commitment”.
Greg Pugh, 49, from New South Wales, Australia joined the Oceans of Hope crew several weeks ago in US Samoa. Diagnosed with MS six years ago Greg retired from his job in heavy industry and his life just went on hold. Hearing about Oceans of Hope via Facebook he immediately made plans to resurrect his sailing life.
”It changes your whole attitude towards life really. Instead of moping around waiting for your next exacerbation you have something positive to look forward to. It's the opportunity of a lifetime”, he said.
Managing Director of Biogen in Australia and New Zealand, Joerg Hermans, said the company was delighted to be sponsoring such a groundbreaking project in MS.
“Biogen is all about caring deeply and helping people with MS to change their lives. The Oceans of Hope project is certainly a global embodiment of those principles for us,” said Mr Hermans.
The celebrations continued at a luncheon organized by MS Auckland with speeches by CEO Therese Russel and TV presenter Graeme Sinclair among others.
During the stopover in Auckland Oceans of Hope will be berthed at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron where people living with MS are invited to take part in sailing trips. On the 11th she transfers to Viaduct Basin where delegates from the Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists (ANZAN) conference will visit. The ANZAN conference commences on Tuesday 12th and lasts until the 15th. Oceans of Hope will be present with a stand throughout the conference.