Biking, multiple sclerosis and a progression of understanding

I was in middle school when I first heard about multiple sclerosis. It was at an assembly. The presenter was trying to convince a bunch of kids to find sponsors who would pay them to read books – money that they wouldn’t be allowed to keep! The money went to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to help people with a terrible disease that affected their central nervous system.

That was, well, a number of years ago. I remember signing up every year. Honestly, I was probably inspired more by the prize list than by any sense of compassion for people with the disease. I was also such an avid reader that people eventually stopped sponsoring me for each book read and gave me generous donations instead.

Then my aunt was diagnosed with MS.

I really don’t remember how it was diagnosed or too much about the earliest stages of the disease. As I grew up and the disease progressed, I became more and more aware of how it affected her life until, at the end, she was confined to her bed.

Then I met first one person my age, then another … and another … who were dealing with the disease. They’re mommas and wives. Single women and grandmas. One sings like an angel, but sometimes has to sit through choir practice because of the fatigue brought on by MS.

So in just 12 days, I will be riding in the Bike MS: Mason-Dixon Challenge. I haven’t decided if I will do the 30 mile ride or the 62 mile ride. I’ve been off the bike for a few years so I don’t know about my endurance.

As I raise money this time, I know multiple sclerosis better, but not as well as my cousin who took care of my aunt as the disease progressed or the women I’ve met online whose tweets reflect their frustration with flare-ups. It is for them that I ride.

Would you consider helping me reach my goal? I’m trying to raise $150. You can donate online by visiting my personal page.

If you can’t help, would you say a prayer for those with MS?


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