Carol Moiso of Vancouver was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 20 years ago.
Since then, she has lost some control of her lower body, started using a wheelchair to get around and struggled with depression and physical weakness. In spite of all that, the 57-year-old swam 1.1 miles across the Columbia River in 50 minutes Monday as part of the 70th annual Roy Webster Cross-Channel Swim, held by the Hood River, Ore., County Chamber of Commerce.
"It was a big feat," she said. "A lot of people say I am an inspiration to them. I inspired myself. I never thought I could swim across the river, so it was a very heartfelt day for me."
Moiso heard about the swim at a water aerobics class at the Clark County Family YMCA. It had been 10 years since the last time she swam.
"I wondered if I could still swim," Moiso recounted. "I decided I wanted to do something to inspire others and myself to see if I could accomplish this. MS takes a lot from you, and I wanted to see what I could do."
Moiso began training for the swim more than four months ago. She started out with doing laps for 90 minutes three times a week at 24 Hour Fitness and the YMCA and worked up to five or six times per week. She did some trial laps at Battle Ground Lake to acclimate to colder water and potentially slimy river conditions.
Due to loss of strength in her lower body, she estimates that
about 80 percent of swimming comes from upper body strength.
Moiso was one of 489 swimmers who took the plunge off The Sternwheeler paddleboat Monday and swam across the river to the Best Western Beach in Hood River.
Moiso's son, Adam Moiso, 32, swam beside her, but she said she did the swim without help. She had about 10 friends on the shore cheering her on. When she reached the shoreline, her son and another man carried her to her wheelchair.
She won the Outstanding Bravery Award.
"That's probably because I asked 50 questions because I was scared to death," she said.