Person On the Move
The key here is that a Bio about me is really pointless. If nothing else I have learned that MS is almost always a shared journey with friends, spouses, family, and the medical folks. So, this is a shared journey for me and my wife Kristen.
It all started pretty much like Charlie Brown when I fell in love with my redheaded girl. I met the All-American swimmer at William and Mary, followed her to California and managed to get her to marry me. Following the birth of our second daughter strange things began to happen to Kristen. She had numbness in her hands and legs, drop foot when running and playing tennis, and balance problems. We ultimately discovered she had MS. At the time the doctor assured us that she would soon be back running 10ks and leading her active life. The reality turned out to be that her MS progressed to the point that our youngest daughter had very limited experience of her Mother as the amazing athlete she once was.
We moved to Texas in 1999 and at that time Kristen was still walking but using a cane from time to time. Slowly that transitioned to a walker and then to her wheelchair. She has experienced a full range of MS treatments and is currently doing very well on Gilenya - a treatment brought about through support from the MS society.
Once in Texas we learned about a bike ride in Fort Worth to support MS so the whole family set off the follow me around Granbury and Glen Rose. That was our introduction to the MS society. We followed that up by being the host family for the short lived WALK MS event in Southlake, TX and participated in various other luncheons and events.
Then came 2003 when Kristen became patient "X" due to complications from an experimental treatment she was taking at the UTSW MS clinic. She was getting infusions of mitoxatrone, which is a chemotherapy drug that was showing promising results in MS patients. Unfortunately, Kristen was the first to get the ultimate side effect - Leukemia. We spent a very tense 2 weeks while the UTSW cancer team pulled her through with ironically more chemotherapy. The near death experience created a family that is pretty immune to most hurts and illnesses etc. but what would you expect from two girls and guy who waited to find out if Kristen was going to stay with us or not. One of the best parts of the story is that her red hair did indeed grow back!
The leukemia scare galvanized me and I decided to get more involved with the MS society to try and help Kristen and other MS patients live better and move towards a cure. Since them Bike MS has become a family effort with both girls riding, though not as often as I would like, our son-in-law riding and me hoping to hold on long enough to ride with my grandson when he is old enough.
Bike MS expanded to include the Bike Leadership Team and the North Texas Board/Council. The most amazing thing is that I have yet to meet a person with MS who is not optimistic, positive, and giving everything to living with their disease. I wish more people were like MS patients and many of the folks in the greater MS community are!
I freely admit that my original motivations for supporting the society were completely selfish and, let's be honest, those selfish reasons are still there. However, my involvement has enriched my life in so many ways. I have made life-long friends, met amazing people and yes, had some killer fun on bike rides. It is the passion and that amazing feeling of doing something for others that makes the MS society so special. I celebrate everyone in the MS community and am proud to contribute to the cause anyway I can.