Why this Whittier man plans to swim lakes in the Sierra Nevadas – California News

Why this Whittier man plans to swim lakes in the Sierra Nevadas – California News

WHITTIER >> Richard “Dix” Gardner has two chronic illnesses that could hamper living an active lifestyle.

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12 and in 2001 diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Gardner, 56, has decided to use the one activity — swimming — he still can do to raise awareness of the latter disease.

“This disease has significantly changed my life in so many ways, yet I am still compelled to wake up everyday, no matter how poorly I may feel, with a smile on my face and a positive and optimistic view of life,” said Gardner, who uses a cane, walker and mostly a wheelchair to move around in his daily life.

“Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body,” according to the National MS Society.

Although Gardner, who swam competitively at La Serna High School, has his down moments, swimming has given him the strength and the will to not withdraw from society but help others with MS.

On Saturday he swam 4 miles at Shaver Lake in Fresno County to launch his When I Swim Foundation.

They are the first miles he intends to swim throughout various lakes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

“I have always swam as a form of exercise, so it seemed a natural fit to have swimming be part of my crusade to inspire others with MS,” said Gardner, a self-described ‘water baby” who began swimming at age 2 and swam competitively by 6 years old.

Troubled daily with heat sensitivity, fatigue, balance issues and other symptoms, Garner finds being in the water is the only time his body seems…

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