Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cycling to Make a Difference

This fall, I am, once again, riding in the MS Bike Tour to raise funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Many of you know that about 3 years ago, I started at bike team at the NC School of Science and Math as part of that effort. Over the past 3 years, our team has raised over $30,000.00 for the MS society and over 75 students, parents and faculty members have gotten involved. This year, Team NCSSM will have team members at two different MS rides. One is in the Greensboro, NC area (Tour to Tanglewood) on September 6-7 and the other is in New Bern, NC on September 13-14. I will be riding in both of these events.

As many of you know, MS has touched my family and we have certainly benefited from the ongoing research that is supported by fund raisers such as the MS Bike Tour. About 10 years ago, shortly after my oldest son was born, my wife began having trouble with her vision. She was quickly diagnosed with MS and we found ourselves completely unsure of exactly what that meant for her longterm health, our "plans" for more children and our future as a family. Over the past 10 years, Barbra has been fortunate to have very few major difficulties and our family life has remained vibrant, exciting, and healthy. We now have 3 sons and you would never know that Barbra had MS to see her. We feel very blessed to be in this situation. Not all MS patients are so fortunate. Much of that health that Barbra enjoys can be attributed to the medications that she takes (Beta Seron) and the research that is ongoing in the area of Multiple Sclerosis. I can tell you first hand that the MS medications that have been developed in the past 10 years have done wonders for folks that are afflicted with the disease. Beta Seron wasn't around when Barbra was initially diagnosed.

Initially, as the spouse, I felt very helpless. I knew that I would support her in whatever she encountered. (Although, I didn't really know what that might be.) But, there wasn't much else that I could do. A former student, who was an avid mountain biker, came to me and told me that he wanted to ride in an MS 150 bike tour in support of Barbra. I had never done any distance riding at that point, but I had a bike and felt like that was something that I could do. I knew how to ride a bike and at least I would be doing something. Students and parents from my former school stepped up and that spring, with their support, I raised over $5000 and rode in the event with my friend and former student, Mike Gray. I remember that we were riding mountain bikes with knobby tires that made a loud whirring sound as we flew down the road and all of the road cyclists kept remarking about our overall speed and determination. I think I had tears in my eyes for well over half of that ride. I can't tell you how important that ride was to me as the husband of a newly diagnosed MS patient. Over the years, I have participated in at least one MS Bike Tour event every summer and sometimes two or three. I have graduated to road cycling as well as mountain biking and have logged thousands of miles over the years.

This post is not intended to be a request for donations. I simply want you know know about the efforts and the background behind my commitment to the MS Bike Tours. Of course, if you want to donate, you are welcome to do so through the linked pages and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If your are interested in tracking my progress with fund raising or the efforts of Team NCSSM, I have a separate page for each of the events in which I am riding. Our team page is linked to my personal pages. They are:
Many of you have contributed to this effort in the past and I so appreciate your ongoing support.
I am so excited to be riding with students at NCSSM. It is my mission to get them involved in supporting the National MS Society and introducing them to the joys and health of cycling. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to e-mail me or comment on this post and I will occasionally be posting notes about my training and the events here.
Thanks to all of you for your continued support and friendship and your support for the MS Society.

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