Andy McKenna is an avid mountain biker and has been a passionate champion of Overcoming MS since he discovered the Program some years after his diagnosis in 2007. He recently released an episode of his latest series, 'Evolution Stories' called 'MS Makes Me' in which he meets Dr. Jonathan White who also has MS. In the episode, they set out on their bikes in the scenic Tweed Valley and talk about their outlook on life, the immense benefits of the Overcoming MS Program, and why everyone should be told about it at the point of diagnosis.
We caught up with Andy to find out more about what went on behind the scenes and why 'MS Makes Me' carries such an important message for people with MS.
What made you invite Jonny to take part in your 'Evolution Stories' series?
I owe much of the important people and moments in my life to cycling and mountain bikes. From being a hobby sparked when I was a teenager, to adventures around the world and a (former) career as a professional mountain biking guide - the 'Evolution Stories' series is my attempt to explore what makes cycling such an essential thing for others too. At the same time, I wanted to uncover the odd bit of wisdom or perspective that might help someone in whatever challenges they are facing.
After seeing and hearing Jonny speaking on webinars and podcast episodes on the Overcoming MS website and learning he was a keen cyclist, doctor and fellow OMSer, it was a no-brainer to invite him along for a ride. It helped that we ‘clicked’ during our initial video call, and fortunately, the (mostly) quality banter continued when we met in person.
What was it like biking and filming with Jonny?
It was an absolute pleasure - I can’t think of anything more satisfying than sharing the trails in my backyard and seeing someone else’s buzz as they totally ‘get it’ on their first mountain bike ride.
Add to that, we not only share a similar outlook on MS but we’re both passionate in our beliefs and attitude to living with MS - let’s just say we were never stuck for things to say… which made editing a mammoth task!
Were there any funny behind-the-scenes moments?
Too many to recount but I’ve got a couple of scars as daily reminders. I shouldn’t really laugh but Jonny snagging himself on the saddle and splitting his shorts in half is an image I’ll not forget in a hurry!
What impact do you hope this episode will have on people with MS?
Everybody knows someone affected by MS, so I hope to turn more people to Overcoming MS and to the realisation that there’s a set of proven tools out there that can help everyone living with MS.
I suppose I also want to remind people with MS to hold onto their passions and keep trying to find ways to do the things that are precious to them - whether gardening, stamp collecting or sky diving - for me that thing is mountain biking.
You have such a positive mindset, what’s the main thing that helps you look after your mental health?
Getting up a hill on my mountain bike - big or small - especially with my wife Aneela. Even if it only means a gentle climb to my favourite rock, to sit and be outside or making a cup of tea on my stove - that usually helps reset the clock.
Even on the bad days, visualising the feeling I get on the bike gives me something to look forward to and a reason to get back up on my feet and on the pedals.
What’s your advice for someone who is new to the Overcoming MS Program?
Don’t waste any time deliberating, doubting, procrastinating or drowning in all the hype and misinformation that surrounds MS - like I did - just do it! There is nothing to lose and so much to gain.
We are so grateful to Andy for shining a light on the Overcoming MS Program through his film 'MS Makes Me'.
Watch his film here and show your support by sharing it and spreading hope to more people with MS: Evolution Stories: MS Makes Me