May 9, 2010

A New Challenge

Friday was the 3rd anniversary of the passing of my friend Andrew's father. He had Multiple Sclerosis. I asked my friend if he would like to hike with me that day knowing that something outside and physical might be helpful in facing the stress of "the day". He quickly responded that he didn't want to hike but that he did want to bike. After his father died, he biked the 15 mile round trip bike trail to Lake George almost on a daily basis. I wasn't sure if he was including me until he asked if I had a bike. I said..."yeah, I could get a bike", as I thoroughly questioned to myself whether I could just hop on one and do any big stretch of a ride. I was excited though. Partly because I knew it was going to be mostly sunny and 70 degrees and I had comp time to take from the previous weeks overtime that I had worked, but mostly because I don't take for granted being able to be with someone during their personal moments. Doing something positive to mark the anniversary of a death is also about celebrating that person's life and I was real happy to be included. Andrew also asked another friend to come along. I only knew his father for about 3 years before he passed so he and I have only a small set of "remember when" stories. The other friend grew up around Andrew's father and they spoke easily about Jim and their joint memories of the good times....exactly the way I had envisioned the day being spent. During the ride, which I must say I kept up with these two much younger people very well, my friend proposed that we do the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Bike Ride. Ironically, last year the bikers from the event went right past my house. The bikers I remember were all very professional looking and had just ridden up and down hills that I could not possibly get in shape to do in only two months time....but still, I say, "yeah, I would be up for that"....what??? I told Andrew that I would look up all the details and we could go from there hoping that there was an easier route than the one past my house. Friday's actual ride was 15 miles round trip and with me slowing us up a bit it took 3 hours. But it was actually easier than a 7 mile hike. I had some renewed faith in my capabilities and I was getting excited about having a new goal of participating in a biking event. Especially one with such personal significance. Before I even got home I received a text message telling me that we ARE doing the MS ride!!!! So, I am officially in training. I found out that the ride is July 10th and although there is a 10 mile ride, we are going to sign up for the 30 mile route (in yellow below). It does not go by my house (phew) and although it will be a huge undertaking for me, I believe it is something I can do. I am going to be asking for pledges because in order to participate there is a hefty per rider minimum donation. In the course of the 3 years I knew my friend's father, I watched him deteriorate from being able to walk with a cane to a walker to a wheelchair and at the end he was beginning to lose control over his arms. He paid exorbitantly for medical expenses both out of pocket and for his several health insurance riders that were additional to his plan that he kept from his employment as a Certified Nurse Anesthetist. Most helpful is that approximately half of the funds raised by the event are used to directly help people living with MS. Send me an email if you would like to receive information on how to donate..... and if I already correspond with you electronically watch for the details that will show up in your inbox soon. Whether it's hiking, biking or just walking....we should not take our mobility for granted.


Jennifer W said...

This is so cool! I had a grade school friend who lost her mother to MS. It has always been a cause near and dear to me. I'll pledge!

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