Although he's fresh off his most successful season as a professional freestyle skier, Tom Wallisch is ready for his momentous, but demanding 2011-12 season to come to an end.

And for the 24-year-old Park City resident and University of Utah student, what better way to celebrate the gold he won at the Winter X Games finale and the overall Dew Tour title by walking three miles in ski boots in spring weather.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Wallisch moved to Utah to pursue his dream of freestyle skiing. After living in Salt Lake City for five years, he recently moved to Park City where he is a regular at Park City Mountain Resort.

But the high flyer is planning on doing something he hasn't been able to do for a long time, something he grew up doing with his family. On Saturday, April 28, Wallisch will strap on his ski boots and participate in the 23rd annual Walk MS Salt Lake City event.

Ever since he could remember, his aunt, Bonnie Higgins, has had multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, which interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body. According to a release from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS affects more than 400,000 people in the United States, and 2.1 million worldwide.

"With it being such an amazing year for me, it's nice I'll finally be able to break off and have some free time to get back to the roots," he said. "(The walk has) been a thing for me and my family since I was a kid.


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The boots he will be wearing are a promotional model based loosely on a high-top basketball sneaker. He said he hopes to challenge himself in this walk, just like those who deal with MS do on a daily basis.

"With MS, it makes it hard for someone to get up and walk every day," he said. "(Walk MS is) promoting just to move and get out and play and be active, that's the best thing you can do for the disease."

Wallisch added that, more than anything, walking the three miles in uncomfortable, heavy boots should be a "conversation starter." He said, ideally, the boot will become somewhat of a hit at MS walks and could lead to more awareness regarding the disease.

And he's already spreading the word in his professional realm.

"I think it's a great thing to bring to the whole huge ski community," he said. "That's the best way we can entangle our industry with this walk. It's something that just draws them in."

Wallisch's aunt, who lives in New Jersey, is scheduled to come out for the event in Salt Lake City next Saturday, where close to 4,000 participants are expected.

"Not a lot of my family has traveled that far west," he said. "We've been an East Coast family from day one, and not many people have traveled out too far, so it's definitely cool to have her come out."

Slopestyle skiing is scheduled to debut at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and, at this point, Wallisch is considered one of the top contestants. His run this season proves that, but he said it's more than just money and fame for him.

"I've always wanted to get back to doing more and more charitable things," he said. "This year, with how good it's been I am so fortunate to travel around and do what I love. There's only so many people that get to do that."

According to a release, Walk MS is the rallying point for the MS movement celebrating hope for the future. It brings together those impacted by MS and those who want to help do something about the disease now. Utah has one of the highest incidence rates in the country. It is believed one in 300 Utahns is affected. There is no cure for MS.

For more information on the Walk MS event in Salt Lake City or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Visit www.walkMSutah.org .