A Fund for Good story
As a retailer in the outdoor leisure industry, we have a responsibility to fight for the protection of our environment and its wildlife, and to have a lasting positive impact on people’s lives through the outdoors. The Macpac Fund for Good is our way of giving back, and helping those committed to creating long-term change for the good of our people and planet. The Mastering Mountains Charitable Trust exists to enrich the lives of people affected by Multiple Sclerosis by helping them get outdoors. We caught up with Nick Allen, Macpac Ambassador, Product Specialist in our Head Office, and Founder of Mastering Mountains to learn a little bit more about the good work that he and his team do.
Hey Nick! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Mastering Mountains?
Nick: I’m originally from Auckland, but I now live in Christchurch, working in the Macpac Head Office as a Product Specialist, and running Mastering Mountains with my wife, Bex – life is busy! I’m an active climber and tramper, and I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I was diagnosed when I was 25, at a time when I was already dependent on a mobility scooter to get around due to my deteriorating health. I thought my life was over and now, retrospectively, I wish that someone had shown me that you can still live a rich and vital life despite having MS.
These days, I am passionate about giving people with MS tools and knowledge with which they can thrive by getting outdoors. This is the vision for Mastering Mountains Charitable Trust. It exists to enrich the lives of people affected by Multiple Sclerosis by helping them get into the outdoors and enjoy the world around them.
So, how does Mastering Mountains actually help people with MS get active outside?
Nick: Mastering Mountains offers grants that assist people with MS to overcome specific obstacles so that they can achieve an outdoor pursuit. Funding is key, so when we receive grants from organisations like Macpac, it has a huge impact on the work that we’re able to do. We look for applicants who need something that will bring about lasting change in their lives, and in the lives of those around them. Most often, our grant recipients use their money to pay for expert physical therapy, and to cover the costs associated with their adventure goals. This year, we are set to offer three grants to people with MS, including a new and very exciting Expedition Grant. The Expedition Grant will help the recipient pursue a sustained adventure somewhere around the world, and will be used for growing leadership within the MS community. My hope is that this grant will inspire others to get outdoors and provide an opportunity to showcase the tools and information that enables people to fight MS.
Who has benefited from a Mastering Mountains grant so far?
Nick: Sue Dela Rue, our first recipient, has developed her mobility at an inspiring rate. When we met Sue, she was able to walk only short distances before becoming exhausted. Recently, she successfully completed a six hour traverse of Mt. Maungatautari. Another of our grant recipients, Marlene Hessing was barely able to walk a few steps unaided. Now, she has summited Rangitoto Island, entirely unaided, having received specialist training which was funded by Mastering Mountains. These are incredibly determined and dedicated people – we are just facilitating their battle against MS and helping them have great experiences in nature.
What’s the plan for Mastering Mountains moving forward? How will it continue to grow?
Nick: We have a long-term plan to grow the number of grants we offer, and to really support the MS community by providing easy-to-access information about overcoming the obstacles that might be preventing them from getting outside. For this to happen, we need to keep the discussion around MS active, and we need to continue to show people the benefits of an active, outdoor lifestyle. There’s loads of research evidence out there that supports this goal, but we want more people to become living proof, and inspire lasting change in others. Funding is obviously such a big part of this – we’re incredibly grateful to those who donate their money or their time to Mastering Mountains.
What’s coming up in the short term for Mastering Mountains and your grant recipients?
Nick: Starting in June, we’ll be challenging people to fundraise, per kilometer or step, in the great outdoors. Anyone and everyone is welcome – perhaps you have a friend, family member or colleague with MS, or maybe you’re just keen to support the cause. Participants will raise money through sponsorships for Multiple Sclerosis New Zealand and the Mastering Mountains Grant Fund. For us, this is a way to encourage everyone, not just those with MS, to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful landscapes we’re surrounded by in New Zealand. Obviously, the more money we can raise, the more people we can help in their fight against MS. The Step By Step fundraiser will begin on June 28th, and will conclude at the end of MS Awareness Week, on the 9th of September. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for further info – we’ll be launching our fundraising platform in the coming weeks.