Velocity Global commits $1M to First Descents to expand adventure programs for young adults coping with multiple sclerosis
Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
DENVER, June 15, 2021 – First Descents (FD) has announced a transformative $1 million contribution from Velocity Global to support the expansion of adventure programs for young adults living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Funds will support program development and help reach more than 1,000 MS participants over the next 5 years.
“First Descents serves people first to fill a gap in psychosocial supportive care for young adults living with MS. Velocity Global is honored to support the expansion of these programs through this donation and volunteer efforts from our global team,” said Ben Wright, founder and CEO of Velocity Global. “I have witnessed the healing impact of First Descents programs firsthand, and am proud our company is in a position to advance this important work.”
Velocity Global and First Descents share a special partnership that transcends financial support. The two Colorado-based companies began as office neighbors at INDUSTRY Denver in 2014. Over the years, Velocity Global employees have volunteered on First Descents programs and fundraised while competing in the Ragnar Snowmass Relay and the TransRockies Run. In 2018, Velocity Global contributed $150,000 to pilot MS programming which began with a whitewater kayaking experience in Tarkio, Montana.
“Velocity Global’s support will help us to serve more than 1,000 young adults living with MS in the coming years while investing in vital partnerships with patient advocacy groups and neurology clinics nationwide,” observes Ryan O’Donoghue, CEO, First Descents. “We want MS patients to learn about First Descents closer to the time of diagnosis and know that we are here for them. Velocity Global’s leadership support will make this vision a reality.”
The National MS Society indicates there are approximately 1 million people living with multiple sclerosis in the United States with approximately 10,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Typically, MS is diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with a median age of diagnosis at 34. Young adults living with MS can experience significant physical, neurological and psychosocial changes that often disrupt important developmental milestones. In addition to the complexities of clinical treatments and lifestyle implications, the relapsing and progressive nature of MS can be daunting, and can result in significant psychosocial distress. According to the National MS Society, clinical depression ranks among the most common comorbidities associated with MS. These realities have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic where prolonged social isolation and apprehension for the future have taken a significant toll.
First Descents is working with several renowned patient advocacy groups, including the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) to reach more people coping with MS. “There is an important need to support young adults who have MS, specifically with age-appropriate programming that can improve their outlook and quality of life,” observes Gina Ross Murdoch, President & CEO, Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. “Staying fit and active – especially alongside peers living with MS – can greatly benefit the mental and physical health of people managing the challenges of MS. We are excited to work with First Descents and Velocity Global on the launch of these innovative programs.”
First Descents’ all-inclusive programs are free of charge to participants. All programs ensure ADA lodging compliance, a tailored Wahls protocol nutrition program, and fully-accessible outdoor activities. Further, programs are designed with careful consideration to mitigate heat sensitivity, balance issues, and fatigue. Ultimately, First Descents creates an environment where young adults with MS can reclaim their physical agency, explore new activities, and nurture lifelong supportive peer relationships.
ABOUT VELOCITY GLOBAL
Velocity Global accelerates the future of work beyond borders. Its platform enables businesses to employ distributed teams and expand internationally through global expertise, best-in-breed technology, and scale. More than 700 brands rely on its Employer of Record model and infrastructure, also called an International PEO (Professional Employer Organization), in 185 countries and all 50 United States to compliantly employ thousands of supported employees, access global talent, and grow revenue. Named a “Leader” in Global Employer of Record services by prominent analyst firm NelsonHall, Velocity Global is a strategic partner to its clients through additional comprehensive services including Immigration, Independent Contractor Compliance to assess a workforce, and Agent of Record (AoR) to streamline payments to contractors globally. Founded in 2014, the company is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, with regional headquarters in Amsterdam, Bogotá, and Singapore, with local employees in 16 countries.
ABOUT FIRST DESCENTS
First Descents (FD) is a leader in adventure-based healing. Through outdoor adventure, community building, and lifestyle development, FD improves long-term survivorship and quality of life for young adults impacted by cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other serious health conditions. Headquartered in Denver, First Descents has served more than 10,000 participants over the last 20 years. Beginning in 2020, First Descents launched programs for healthcare workers on the frontlines of COVID-19. All services are fully-adaptive and free of charge. A Guidestar Platinum-ranked nonprofit, First Descents has been recognized on CNN Heroes and Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work.