Sierra Nevada Open Water 4 MS – August 2 & 3, 2024 – Tioga Lake, Ellery Lake and June Lake

    $0 Total Raised

    $10,000 Goal

    At 51 years of age, I found myself standing on the pool deck, permanently disabled, out of the workforce, and wondering what I was going to do now? Taking stock of my life, my talents, my strengths and accomplishments, and all of the things my MS had robbed me of doing and enjoying is when I realized swimming was not one of them. I started swimming at a very young age and have been swimming ever since. Swimming is an activity that I have always found pleasure in and I am still able to enjoy doing and do well. Swimming solely with my upper-body using a pull buoy to float my legs mind you.  

    Soon after in 2013, I found myself in the Pacific Ocean doing my first open water swim. Swimming has since become my new vocation and the vehicle I use in raising worldwide MS awareness and inspiring others of all abilities. Currently there are 2.9 million people worldwide living with Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic and unpredictable disease of the central nervous system leaving countless individuals disabled and often wheelchair and home bound.

    Funding research and quality of life programs and services will always be the focus of my swims. This year, I will be swimming Tioga Lake, Ellery Lake and June Lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains and invite you to support this year’s effort to raise resources to launch a new educational program for multiple sclerosis patients at Keck School of Medicine of USC.

    “Swimming is the place where I am free. Free from the physically and mentally challenging aspects of living with Multiple Sclerosis. Swimming is one of the few abilities and pleasures in life my MS has not robbed of me being able to enjoy. I look at swimming as my personal equalizer over my MS and over all, those of able minds and bodies. Swimming is who I have become. It is what Drives Me, My Identity, My Vocation, My Purpose in Life.”

    Richard “Dix” Gardner


    This year’s swim will support the inaugural MS patient forum envisioned by Dr. Lilyana Amezcua, Chief of the Multiple Sclerosis Comprehensive Care and Research Group at Keck Medicine of USC. The MS Patient Forum for patients and their loved ones at the USC Keck School of Medicine’s Health Sciences Campus, will provide an opportunity to learn about the latest in MS research and patient care at USC. The forum will include an opportunity for patients and caregivers to ask questions of the expert panel, to be comprised of USC’s MS specialists and members of the multidisciplinary team such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and social work.

    About Dr. Lilyana Amezcua

    Dr. Lilyana Amezcua is an Associate Professor of Neurology and was recently appointed as Division Chief for MS and Neuroimmunology.   She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California Irvine in Irvine, California, and her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, followed by neurology residency and clinical fellowship in neuroimmunology and multiple sclerosis at USC. She received her Master of Science degree in clinical, biomedical, and translational science from USC, Preventive Medicine, under a Clinical Translational Science Institute NIH KL2 award. Her research is focused on collaborating with basic researchers in the field of immunology, employing new imaging techniques to assess disease progression, as well as defining racial disparities that may exist within the multiple sclerosis population. She has received numerous awards and serves as principal investigator in multiple clinical trials, primarily focusing on progressive MS.

    Thank you for your support of my swims and this noble cause!


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