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Carlsbad man fighting MS paddles 22 miles across Catalina Channel

Tim Salmon is sharing last summer's feat in hopes of inspiring others in 2022.

CARLSBAD, Calif. — A Carlsbad man living with Multiple Sclerosis says his secret for keeping a positive attitude is "embracing the suck". In this Zevely Zone, Tim Salmon shares the story of an inspiring Catalina Crossing.

In 2003, Tim was a surfer in the best shape of his life, when he suddenly felt pins and needles in his arms and legs.

"Went to a doctor, a neurologist, and he diagnosed me with MS," said Tim.  

Since meeting Tim two years ago, the Carlsbad resident who grew up surfing had to quit his favorite sport. 

RELATED: Zevely Zone: Man diagnosed with MS finds solace in surfing

"For some reason, I lost my confidence. I have an issue with my right leg where it fatigues and I don't have that speed and agility," said Tim.

Which made Tim's next move even more miraculous. Even though the 52-year-old couldn't surf, he could still paddle. 

"I'm smiling and happy as I can ever be," said Tim while showing me a video of him in the water. That is where he made the decision to paddle 22 miles from Catalina to the California coast. 

"I said, Tim, this is it, this is the time to set the biggest goal of your life," said Tim.

Credit: Tim Salmon

Last June, Tim completed the incredible feat. He is sharing pictures and videos of the crossing hoping to inspire others living with challenges. 

"That's my game face, that is embracing the suck right there. I was fighting fatigue and I knew I was going to get across that channel," said Tim.

Paddling the Catalina Channel with MS is nearly impossible but doing it with a smile on your face is unheard of. Tim shared a picture of him paddling in open water with a large ship behind him. 

Credit: Tim Salmon

"Yeah, that's the tanker, out in the channel digging deep and loving life," said Tim.

Tim wrote a letter to the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the non-profit group provided a grant for him to buy his paddling board. Tim's best medicine for MS has always been his love for the ocean. 

"It's like my church, very peaceful, very calm out there, a lot of dolphins. It's my best healing," said Tim.

I met Tim at the Wave Goodbye to MS event. The event was co-created by Ocean Beach surfing champion Steve Bettis who also suffers from MS. Steve believed Tim could do great things despite his fight with MS. Tim credits Steve for fighting back against the disease and staying active.

Credit: Tim Salmon

Four years after Tim's M.S. diagnosis and the worst of news came the best, he married Leah the love of his life. 

"Leah is my rock she does everything for me since the day we met," said Tim.

They started cycling for his own cure on Howard's Bike Team. "Howard's Team has just raised over a million dollars," said Tim. "We are raising all of this money to help others with MS live a better quality of life and it's very rewarding."

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Sometimes disease picks on the wrong person. Tim decided he would not let the disease defeat him so he chose to fight MS and started with the support of the local National MS Society - Pacific South Coast Chapter.

 A good friend of his at the MS Society, Sharon Shahnazarian, introduced him to Howard's Team back in 2010, and that was it, GAME ON!  Tim joined Howard's Team and rode in the Bike MS Bay to Bay Tour.

RELATED: Second Annual MS Paddle for the Cure Saturday

Whether cycling or paddling, the money Tim is raising may not help him directly but the thought of finding a cure for future generations kept him on that board for five and half hours.

"I knew I could do it, in my mind I knew I could do it. There was no way I would not make it across the channel," said Tim. 

When he arrived in San Pedro, Tim he could hardly stand and there was Leah waiting to walk him to the finish line. "Biggest accomplishment of my life," said Tim. The next time you face adversity, Tim says find your sea of Hope and "embrace the suck".

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