'Because I still can'
Retired Manchester police officer won't back down in battle with MS
Paul Grugan of Hudson, a retired Manchester police officer who has multiple sclerosis, is pictured at the summit of one of the many peaks he's conquered. He plans to travel to California next month, where he and his wife, JoAnn, will complete a fundraising climb up Mount Whitney. They are hoping to raise $5,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. (COURTESY)
Seated in their Hudson kitchen, JoAnn and Paul Grugan pore over a photo book depicting their many mountain climbs. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)
More informationFor more information about the Multiple Sclerosis Society, go to www.nationalmssociety.org. To sponsor the Grugans on their upcoming hike, click the "Donate" tab, then the link under "Pledge" and then type in "Paul Grugan" and select New Hampshire.
Those passions haven't changed since Paul Grugan, a retired Manchester police officer, received a devastating diagnosis. Maybe that's because he doesn't have to face his battle alone.
"We know what this disease can do," JoAnn Grugan said. "But at the same time, we're all about getting out there and enjoying our life."
Growing increasingly concerned after the numbness spread to his hairline, the father of two made a visit to the family doctor, who ordered a series of tests.
"Yeah, we got a bad deal, but then you remember: There's always another way," JoAnn Grugan said. "Always."
"We'd talked about going to Ireland," JoAnn said.
Paul's response was, "I can do that when I'm in a wheelchair."
So the couple immediately embarked on something they'd long contemplated: a 21-mile trek across the White Mountains, known as the Presidential Traverse.
Tan and fit from his frequent hikes, Grugan and his wife are now proud and practicing members of the Four Thousand Footer Club, having conquered all 48 of the Granite State's highest peaks.
Flipping through a handmade photo album detailing their many climbs, the Grugans share memories collected like rare seashells: each one irreplaceable and unique.
On Sept. 3, they'll travel to California to hike Mount Whitney, which boasts the highest summit in the lower 48 states. Their mission: to raise funds for and awareness of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"We'll be traveling 50 miles over seven days, passing through three national parks and sleeping in a tent," Grugan said. "And why? Because I still can."
Entering August, the Grugans had raised more than $1,000. They hoped to raise at least $4,000 more.
For more information about the Multiple Sclerosis Society, go to www.nationalmssociety.org. To sponsor the Grugans on their upcoming hike, click the "Donate" tab, then the link under "Pledge" and then type in "Paul Grugan" and select New Hampshire.
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