In 2009 I started supporting the National MS Society by riding the MS150 event. The MS150 is an event that takes place over 2 days in which cyclists of all ages and abilities ride 150 miles to raise awareness of those who are diagnosed with MS. Each rider is responsible to raise at least $350 that funds research for new medicines and also to find a cure. Many riders who participate have MS and are given bib numbers that are a special color. They are inspiring to say the least because for some of them it is a struggle to complete just half of the ride. Some are able to complete the whole 150 mile ride. I first became aware of MS as a young person when watching a video in my school of a speaker/pastor who had MS. He had a very severe case, but was an avid spokesperson for living life in spite of obstacles in your path. His motto was "I have MS. What's your problem?" That stuck with me. Later in college I personally knew someone who was diagnosed with MS. I owned a landscape company in college and she was a client. After 2 weeks of mowing her grass and not seeing her or getting a check I was wondering what was going on in her life. Another week went by and she came out of her house, and leaned against the fence and told me how she had been fighting dizziness, blurry vision, and other symptoms. The doctors told her that they believed she had MS.
[button link="http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/what-is-ms/index.aspx" size="small" window="yes"]More MS 411[/button]
I've later come to have another friend who lives with MS. He is the pastor of the church we attend, and is a man full of energy and enthusiasm for life. His first experience with MS started with numbness or tingling in his toes that slowly spread up his body over the period of a few days. It later subsided, but it is common for MS to surge like a wave onto a beach and then recede. Presently doctors have typed four disease courses for MS. You can learn more about that here: [button link="http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/what-is-ms/four-disease-courses-of-ms/index.aspx" size="small" window="yes"]MS Effects[/button]
As you can imagine, MS can greatly affect the quality of life a person enjoys. Because of the National MS Society's efforts to raise money, many medications have been invented as well as a better understanding of how to cope with MS has been developed. The hope is that someday a cure can be found, but until then, many of the treatment methods that exist are because of people like you and I who have donated money to research. Doctors are learning more about what medicines work for various disease courses as well as how diet and lifestyle can help patients cope with exacerbations they encounter.
Why Support MS?
At this point, MS doesn't have a celebrity spokesperson like Lance Armstrong, Jerry Lewis, or Michael J Fox. There is no yellow bracelet campaign or pink or red ribbons for MS worn by people attending the Academy Awards. People diagnosed with MS are reliant on their friends and family to help spread the word about the cause. What initially attracted me to this cause is the people diagnosed don't get this disease because of careless lifestyle choices that can cause other types of diseases. They don't get MS because they have a junk food diet. They don't get MS because they smoked or drank too much. They don't get MS because of promiscuity or a drug habit. MS just happens. It decides to be a guest in your house and you don't even know it's coming. It certainly isn't the only cause I believe in, and I don't mean to draw negative comparisons to other diseases in order to get support for MS research. I only mention those aspects because I think it adds to the worthiness of your support in finding better medical treatments and that someday a cure might be found.The Oklahoma MS150 Event
The MS150 in Oklahoma starts in downtown Tulsa and strikes out west towards the state capitol in OKC. We ride along Route 66 for nearly all of the first day. We stop halfway in Bristown to eat lunch provided by volunteers at the local high school. Then back on the bike towards Chandler for our overnight sleepover. The Tulsa-Chandler section of the route is covered with many rolling hills and thanks to the corporate tents along the way, we have plenty of water, Gatorade, and snacks to keep us fueled and moving along.
In Chandler we pitch our tents and shower and just relax for the better part of the day. The more casual riders continue to arrive at the stop well into the evening. This year they are bringing in a huge shower truck and we are excited because the shower situation last year, well, lets just say I was really glad I had my Crocs to wear in that shower house because you couldn't see the floor. I'm not fond of recounting that story, but I went straight outside to a hydrant and rinsed my feet for about 5 minutes! The volunteers are great and make smoothies for the riders, bring in barbecue for supper, and are up early cooking pancakes and more. I might add that everyone sleeps in their tent overnight.
Day 2 is the final leg and we end the ride on the steps of the capitol building. The ride from Tulsa to OKC is uphill, usually facing the wind and we are glad to arrive at the finish. Sure it's not the easiest ride comparing to some rides I've done in the past, but it sure is easier than living with MS and at the end it's a good feeling knowing that the efforts of all who participated are benefiting those who are living with MS.