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Hood River athlete stays ahead of multiple sclerosis by staying active

In his 60s, Sean Corcoran is an avid mountain biker and climber. In 2004, he was dealt a tough diagnosis, but uses his active lifestyle to stay ahead and inspire.

HOOD RIVER, Ore. — In this week's Let's Get Out There, we head to the Post Canyon Trail System in Hood River, Oregon. That's where a mountain biker, who isn't held back by health issues, wants to inspire others to stay active and live their best life.

For Sean Corcoran, a day spent on a bike or a mountain is a good day.

“Just the freedom,” he said. “You know, you're out in nature.”

That freedom is something that hasn’t always come easy for Sean Corcoran, nor was it a certainty.

“My philosophy in life is just to keep moving. Whether it's spring, summer, winter or fall, I've got some sport that I'm involved in that keeps me going and keeps me training and keeps my body healthy.”

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

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In the summer, Corcoran rips up the trails at Post Canyon in Hood River. It’s basically a giant playground for mountain bikers and it keeps him young.

“I'm sort of on the other side of 50. Actually the other side of 60 now,” Corcoran laughed.

When he’s not riding, he loves to climb. In 2011, he discovered alpine mountaineering, yet another thing that doesn’t come easy. Eighteen years ago, Corcoran came home from vacation and began feeling numbness in the left side of his body. Just a month after his daughter was born, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease where the immune system eats away at the nerves’ protective coverings.

“The not knowing is... kind of like mental torture,” said Corcoran.

He sank pretty low after his diagnosis. It took an unforgettable trip to help pull him up.

“I joined a group of other fellow climbers with MS, and there were several other members that had Parkinson's disease and we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.”

Credit: Sean Corcoran
Corcoran summited Mount Kilimanjaro in 2011 with a group of warriors with MS and Parkinson's disease.

It started him on a new track in life and he’s been hard to stop ever since. In 2023, he will travel to Nepal to climb the world’s sixth highest peak, Cho Oyu with a friend he met on the Kilimanjaro trip.

“I don't think I live any differently than the average person now. But I think I have a little bit of a fire underneath me, which is MS. I'm always sort of trying to stay a little bit ahead of it,” said Corcoran.

He sometimes has trouble with balance and fatigue, but the bike riding helps combat it. Corcoran hopes his active lifestyle inspires others to be the best version of themselves.

Credit: Sean Corcoran
Sean Corcoran biking with his daughter.

“Keep your muscles active and keep an optimistic attitude about life going forward, because I think that's a good prescription for happiness in... my view anyway,” Corcoran said.

Let's Get Out there airs once a week on KGW's 4 p.m. newscast and The Good Stuff, which airs Monday-Thursday at 7 p.m. We're including viewer photos for this series. You can text your photos to 503-226-5088 or post them on the KGW Facebook page.

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