Why I Ride
To Beat MS and inspire other people to never give up no matter how bad life may seem. There's good that comes out of everything if you look for it...even having MS.
As you probably know...I have MS. It’s been a challenge for 30 years now but I feel I’m continuing to make progress. I’m trying to figure it out and results of all the research and information the MS Society provides is helping to make progress. I’m really excited about all the research they are supporting with exercise and nutrition lately.
I've had two major MS attacks in my life so far. My first major attack was when I was 29 years old. Within 3 days I was not able to walk nor did I have enough strength to lift a fork to my face and feed myself. My entire body felt as though it fell asleep with pins and needle tingling sensations. After being hospitalized for 3 weeks and spending 3 months in physical and occupational therapy; I was finally able to button my shirt buttons and tie my own shoes again. Those were MAJOR accomplishments. The remainder of the first year, I worked hard to be able to walk normal again. At this time they diagnosed me with Guillian-Barre Syndrome which has many MS-like symptoms but comes on much quicker.
When I was 39 I had my 2nd major attack. This attack came on while I was at a family wedding. My legs fell asleep (I knew that feeling way too well) so I went home early and went to bed with high hopes that it would be better in the morning. No such luck! This time I was not in the hospital as long (only 1 week) but I went for about 1-1/2 years with barely being able to walk. This time they diagnosed me with MS and said the first attack I had was most likely my first MS attack.
I am now 59 years old and MS has really changed my life (for the better in a lot of ways). Through lots of love, support and prayers from family and friends, daily exercise, eating healthy, minimizing the stress in my life, getting plenty of rest, staying in cooler temperatures, avoiding large noisy crowds and Copaxone daily injection drug therapy, I have been able to control my MS to a certain degree. I have run (6) full Marathons (26.2 miles each) along with many other physical activities including riding the MS 150 Bike ride the past 13 years. Many of these years, I attempted 100 miles each day and accomplished it each year the weather was cooperative.
I also trained with some friends for my 1st Ironman Wisconsin September of 2008. Do you know what that is? It's a triathlon that you swim 2.4 miles first, then you ride a bike 112 miles and then after those two events you run a full 26.2 mile marathon all in one day. This is not exactly an event designed for someone with MS. Did I do it? Well…I finished the 2.4 mile swim in 2 hours and 21 minutes. The cut off time for the swim is 2 hours and 20 minutes so I was the first person disqualified and was not able to continue on for the bike and run. The blessing of being able to train with my friends and the entire Ironman experience was one of the best experiences of my life even though it was cut short. I signed up to try (tri) again in 2010. This time, miraculously, I finished the 140.6 mile Ironman challenge in 14 hours and 41 minutes. Not bad for an old grey haired man fighting MS. I did it again in 2012 and 2015. It took me over 16 hours to finish these two...they were rough! My MS got really bad about 9 miles into the run and it took all I had to finish them.
It's always good to put a big event on your calendar. It keeps you motivated. Being able to walk is such a blessing...much less swim, bike and run. The biggest blessing is the blessing of the love and support so many people have shared with me through these adventures.
Today my MS symptoms consist of: Blurry vision, poor memory, anxiety, depression, tingling and burning sensations throughout my body, electrical shock sensations throughout my body, fatigue, weakness, neurological pain, urinary problems, etc. I don't have all these symptoms all the time - Thank God! They come and go, I have good days and bad but I have symptoms of some sort every day and every night.
I am not telling you this so you feel sorry for me. I am telling it to you so you can have a better understanding of the symptoms I personally deal with having MS and a better understanding of the disease. I’m not alone...there are over 10,000 people in Wisconsin alone that are dealing with many of the same issues. Every case is different and I am much more fortunate than most at this point in my life.
Do you want to know something really cool? Some of my friends who inspired me to run, bike, swim, attempt the Ironman triathlons etc. asked me in 2012 if I could find some people with MS to train for and do an indoor triathlon at Westwood Health and Fitness in Pewaukee. At first, I didn’t know if I could do this because most of the people I know with MS were really struggling. We got the word out and found 10 people to join us. Every person made huge improvements mentally and physically during this training and event. Emotionally, that brought me right back to when I began to get my mobility back…what a gift!
The problem was that after the event, these people didn’t have anything to look forward to and really missed our time together and progress they were making. The next year (2013), nearly everyone joined us again and made progress again. This time was different though. They had something to look forward to every week since. I put an exercise room in at Wisconsin Metal Parts, Inc. and invited them to continue getting together each week.
We now have about 50 people with MS getting together every Wednesday and Friday morning. Each person is making huge progress mentally and much progress is being made physically as well. The love and encouragement that is shared in that little room with an outstanding group of volunteers and our friends with MS is absolutely amazing! The courage, determination and willpower demonstrated by these people coming together with their wheelchairs, walkers, canes, etc. is also absolutely amazing! What a great group of people! To know them is to love them. I’m hoping many of these people and their families will join us on the MS ride each year. This year we will have 20 - 25 people that actually live with MS riding with us on our Peppy Pedalers team. Some will be riding solo on their own bike. Others will be riding on tandems and we even have one who has been in a wheel chair for over twelve years riding a hand cycle…amazing!
I am hoping people will join me in my efforts to raise money for this worthwhile cause. You probably know other people besides me that have it. Once I realized (and accepted) that I have MS...I was amazed at how many other people know people with MS and how devastating some of the stories are.
I give thanks to God every day for giving me the strength, knowledge and willpower to deal with this disease as well as I do. Believe it or not...I've had more good come out of having MS than bad; even though it hit me as hard as it did. I have stronger relationships with God, my family, friends and people I work with. I am healthier mentally and in many ways physically because of what I had to learn to deal with by having MS. I've learned that there really isn't much that matters in life if you don't have your health and support from your family and friends.
MS has helped me get my priorities in life aligned with what is truly important. It seems that we take some things (like our health) for granted until we have it taken away from us. MS makes me appreciate my health and the value of the love and support from my family and friends.
Last year the MS ride was a lot of fun for all of us Peppy Pedalers. We had over 130 people on our team and together we raised over $150,000.00...Wow! We met a lot of really caring people the entire ride and had a lot of fun! It’s truly an inspirational experience that over 1,400 people cared enough to ride 150 miles and raise money for the cause. The rest areas were great, the food was great, the party was great, the entertainment Saturday night was great...it was an awesome experience!
What can you do to help?
1) Pray that the cause of MS will be identified and that a cure will be found. Pray that the people living with MS and their families will get some relief in their daily symptoms so they can enjoy life to the fullest.
2) Join the Peppy Pedalers Bike MS Best Dam Bike Tour Team. We want this to be a fun event and an opportunity to spend some quality time riding, eating, resting, partying and having fun with friends and family. Plus it will be an opportunity for you to raise some money for the cause as well. You will feel good about yourself and hopefully we can continue the annual tradition going forward. Sign up and give it a try! You’ll get exercise from training for it, riding in it and be a healthier and happier person as a result of joining the Peppy Pedalers. I’m confident that you will meet some really cool people as well. My friends and family have a lot of character. They’re fun to get to know. This will be a great opportunity to spend some time together.
3) Volunteer for the event. It takes a lot of volunteers to make an event like this successful plus you'll be part of the action!
4) Sponsor me for the event. Make a tax deductible donation right from this site if you would like or you can send your contribution made out to the “National MS Society” to me. I will get it to the MS Society. Any amount you can help with will be greatly appreciated...it doesn't matter how small or how large.
The National MS Society will use funds collected from the Bike MS Best Dam Bike Tour to not only support research for a cure tomorrow, but also to provide programs and services which address the needs of people living with MS today. Because we can fight this disease by simply riding, because we have chosen to help thousands of people through a contribution to the Bike MS Best Dam Bike Tour, we are now getting closer to the hour when no one will have to hear the words, "You have MS."
Please help in some way.
Thanks and God Bless!