Meet Alec Janssens, Branch Out’s first philanthlete

Meet Alec Janssens, Branch Out’s first philanthlete

Philanthropist + athlete= philanthlete

March 10, 2015

In many ways, athletes are very lucky. This year alone, I have literally travelled around the world, came back to Calgary, and then went back to Europe. I’ve been treated to various cultures around the world, had travel experiences with close friends, tried funky foods and had the opportunity to lace-up my skates and compete against the best in the world, mano-y-mano.

Through this I constantly have people in my corner who dedicate an enormous amount of time and attention to me. From coaches with their amazing eye for detail, to the therapists who give me long massages (painful ones), to make sure I can compete at my very best.

Between all the world traveling, massages and attention to yourself, it is easy to get lost in our own little athlete’s world. Athletes often forget about how lucky they are to be in the position in which they are in. We are often looked up to by the public and the influence that we have on people around us. As amateur athletes it is our job, not only to represent ourselves on the world stage but our country and the community which helped us get to this point.

Since an athletes life can be quite self-centred and we are also thrusted into the public eye, I have decided to partner up with the Branch Out Foundation and become the first ever Philanthlete.

Philanthlete: philanthropist+athlete

As Philanthlete, I will be representing the Branch Out Foundation to the best of my abilities, and will also be working closely with them at their events to raise funds for research.

The Branch Out Foundation, is a non-profit organization, founded by former speed skater Crystal Phillips. Crystal, just like myself aspired to make the Olympic team for Long Track Speed Skating. However while on her way to achieving her goal she felt a tingly feeling in her foot one morning that soon progressed up both of her legs and up to her waist. That night she could barely feel half her body. After numerous tests, doctors concluded that she had Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a debilitating neurological disorder with no cure.

She continued on to train, despite many setbacks and even injections into her legs. She eventually made Olympic Trials, and missed the team. Despite the odds against her, the perseverance it took to continue to skate at a high level is extremely impressive, and something that I could not imagine.

What I find so unique about Crystal’s story is that she was prescribed a long list of drugs and treatments, and was told that despite all the treatments, she’d still wind up in a wheelchair. She decided to look elsewhere for alternative treatments for her MS, and through changes in her diet and other treatments, has now been symptom free ever since. This got her thinking that the way we look at treatments for neurological diseases like MS, must be looked at through a combination of traditional and alternative methods.

Why is the Branch Out Foundation so special?

NeuroCAM Research. NeuroCAM is the research that focuses on Complimentary Alternative Modalities that are related to the nervous system.

Pretty much, the brain is still the Pandora’s box of the human body. It works, but nobody really knows how. The brain is both physical and psychological, making the ways we treat it different from other body parts. Patients suffering from neurological disorders are often prescribed drugs with a long list of side effects, as they would for any other physical illness. NeuroCAM research focuses alternative treatments that can compliment or replace traditional more intrusive treatments. The goal is to bridge the gap between the physical and the psychological treatments of the brain.