It began as a joke between Carlo and his wife Angela. When bed-confined during his early years of Multiple Sclerosis, Carlo faithfully watched Katie Couric on the Today Show every morning. He joked to Angela that he was going to visit Katie when he was stronger.
Then, after an antique, electric wheelchair named Blu came into Carlo’s life, Angela playfully argued that Carlo was spending too much time with his new toy. “I’m going to pack my bags to go see Katie Couric,” Carlo joked. That’s when the dream began ~ the dream to travel across the country in an antique, electric wheelchair to share his spirit of hope with others.
As he thought through the idea, it grew until it became The MS Express, a six-month, 4,300 mile antique, electric wheelchair trek from Seattle to New York City with three-legged assistance dog Katie along for the ride. For a chronically ill man, this may seem like a daunting endeavor. For Carlo, though, it’s a more than just a trip – it’s a mission. A mission that Carlo hopes will improve the lives of others. For the last five years, Carlo has been planning this incredible journey. Having to cancel it twice due to health issues, Carlo is determined to make it happen in 2006. With much hoopla and fanfare, his departure will be held at the Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field.
Following a magnificent kick-off, Carlo will begin his six-month journey along the northern United States. In addition to faithful companion Katie, Carlo will be accompanied by a support team in a handicapped accessible chase van, donated by Foley RV and Crossroads RV, two of Carlo’s many generous sponsors. As he travels across the country, Carlo will make keynote stops as the Ambassador for the City of Anacortes (Washington). With the goal of sharing handicapped accessibility information and raising awareness, Carlo will make official visits with city dignitaries, store owners, civic groups, community organizations, and others afflicted with chronic diseases.
In addition, Carlo will share his Able Neighbor message with hundreds of school children and communities nationwide. “There’s a phrase that goes like this, ‘Count the day lost upon the setting sun that sees not a worthy deed done,’” Carlo said. “I’m just trying to do a good deed. That’s all.” After dozens of stops and raising an estimated $1 million for MS research, Carlo will conclude his trip in New York City where he has promised to treat Angela to dinner at the finest Italian restaurant he can find. “It’s the journey, not the destination,” Carlo said of his cross-country trek.
“My goal is to bring awareness to people, to help those with MS, and to share my spirit of hope.” Meet The MS Express Team Carlo Magno Born in Los Angeles, California in 1951, Carlo was the middle child of a loving Italian family. Growing up in the family car business, Carlo developed salesmanship and promotional skills at an early age.
This experience became the foundation for a 26-year career in sales, marketing and promotions. Following high school, Carlo attended a number of colleges and universities in the west to further his education. He has been married to wife Angela, the love of his life, for 9 years. They live in Anacortes, Washington near the Pacific coast.
Carlo has two children, Anna, 33, and Guy, 18, from previous marriages. In July of 1995, Carlo was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. After recovering from an initial flair-up with the disease, he suffered a life-threatening fall at KBRC Radio where he worked at the time. For the next five years, Carlo was either hospitalized or housebound with injuries and illnesses, including pleurisy, blood clots, and trigeminal neuralgia. By the winter of 1999, Carlo had virtually given up and considered euthanasia to end his suffering.
He questioned whether or not he would live to see the new millennium. Then Carlo met Blu, an antique, electric wheelchair. Blu gave Carlo a reason to get out of bed in the morning. As Carlo gradually gained strength, he worked on Blu, restoring her to her original glory. Now, at 54, Carlo feels that he is in the best health of his life – mind, body and spirit. He wants to share his experiences with others to raise awareness for Multiple Sclerosis and to increase accessibility for the disabled in towns across the country.
“I want to define my disease,” Carlo said. “I don’t want my disease to define me.” Carlo’s next grand adventure is The MS Express, a 4,300 mile trip from Seattle to New York City, June 1st 2006. Carlo and his three-legged dog Katie will journey across the country in Blu. Katie Carlo had dogs as a child but never as an adult. In recent years, however, he wanted to adopt a three-legged dog. His prayers were answered two years ago when Katie, a four-year-old Australian Red Heeler came into his life. With little but skin and bones left of her, she had been found near the Skagit River, missing a leg and having just birthed a litter of pups. Carlo adopted her as his assistance dog.
She has been his faithful companion ever since, never leaving his side. “It was like two crippled ships meeting in the night,” Carlo joked. “She’s my assistance dog, but I like to think that I’m Katie’s assistant person.” Carlo’s beloved dog was named for Today Show co-anchor Katie Couric who Carlo vowed to visit when his confinement ended. Blu Blu is a 1955 Autoette Cruise About, a 24-volt, battery-powered, electric wheelchair conveyance, which can be operated by a 96 percent quadriplegic.
Designed and built out of WWII surplus materials by the Autoette Electric Car Company in Long Beach, California, Blu is the predecessor of today’s golf carts and motorized scooters used by the disabled today. She and others like her were introduced to the Washington State Legislature by Anacortes resident Bill Mitchell. Blu and her fellow Autoettes were granted legal access to all Public Access Routes in the State of Washington.
Blu came into Carlo’s life when he was homebound, spending most of his days in bed. Intrigued by the well-loved but worn antique, Carlo made Blu his reason to get out of bed every day, thanks to Bob Jeffcott who sold the wheelchair to him. “I think he needed Blu more than I did,” Bob said of the wheelchair.
“She has a soul and couldn’t be allowed to die.” With a lot of hard work and unmatched devotion, Carlo has transformed Blu into the beauty she once was – “a magnificent obsession.” With her Bombay Taxi Bell onboard, Blu looks shiny and new and is ready for her cross-country adventure! www.thespiritofhope.org Printed with permission.