I have to admit when I started riding in the Bike MS, I didn’t really understand what “it” was or what I was getting into. It all started about 2005/2006 – I had ballooned to over 300lbs, and knew I had to do something to get my weight under control. So I joined a gym, OFF campus so I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew (halakha). Decided to participate in a spin class, walked in the door and there was Wylie, Griff, Landfried and about three or four other people I knew. I wanted to run out the door, but stayed. Got through the class, and the young men I knew told me they’d see me for tomorrow’s class (actually challenging me to show up in language not suitable for this email). Now feeling accountable I showed up again…..and again….semester ended and I kept going. By the time fall semester started I had lost close to 100 lbs. I was pumped. But I was also afraid that I’d put all the weight back on…. During this same time period, I knew that Darin had been diagnosed with MS. We participated in Walk MS back then….but I really didn’t understand what it was. Then Griff at age 22 was diagnosed with MS. I remember getting Griff and Darin together so Darin could talk Griff through on what to expect. Slowly I began to learn more about the disease. Two people I cared about had MS….and it was starting to piss me off. Both too young to have to live with this disease. I remember the first time I saw Griff, Hunter and Wylie after I lost all the weight. They were walking to the tailgate back when we were on the east side….and I stood in the middle of the street to greet them. They didn’t recognize me. After that reunion, Griff or Hunter (age don’t come alone) pulled me aside and asked me to join the Carney Men and ride in the MS150 Houston to Austin. I thought they were nuts, but also thought this would serve as a new goal to keep weight off and I agreed. As soon as I agreed I thought “what an idiot, you’re almost 50, you have no business riding a bike 150 miles” my next thought was fund raising – I hate asking people for money…but I committed, so it was all in. I didn’t tell many of my friends what I was doing, I was scared to death I wouldn’t be able to finish and I would be embarrassed. So I trained by myself. I was such a newbie to cycling – and since I was training alone….I didn’t even know how to change gears…..so I trained and rode my first MS150 in ONE gear. Learning to shift made all the difference in the world by the way!! Then it came time for the ride. I arrived at the team meeting, a presentation was given about MS, what it was, causes, symptoms. First time I knew what it really was and how many lives it touched. The night before the first day I couldn’t sleep. Too anxious, nervous, scared. Before I knew it we were at the starting line and the ride began. At the Houston to Austin ride the streets are lined with people cheering you on. Many of those people are folks living with MS. I remember trying to get up a hill….thinking I’m done, I can’t possibly go any further, and when I looked up saw a woman sitting in a wheelchair in the bed of a pickup holding a sign over her head that simply said “Hope”. I started bawling like a twelve year old girl. My motivation suddenly shifted from the personal goal of completing the ride, to thinking about those who live with MS, every few miles there were more people, with more signs, saying “thank you” as you rode by….each time bringing me to tears, partly because I finally got why we were doing what we were doing, and partly in pain, but knowing my pain was temporary, and that the people living with MS would have to push on…kept my complaining about how sore I was down considerably just thinking about what they go through every day, that paled in comparison to what I have been asked to do. I finished Day One and thought I conquered the world!! Then I started thinking and dreading Day Two. We set our rallying point and time to be there by to cross the finish line day two. That increased my anxiety…didn’t want team waiting on me. So I got up early, left a little earlier to get a head start. Day Two you are a bit sore and stiff from day one….not to mention sleeping in a tent the night before! So getting going was a little tough….and of course on the first few miles was this hill that at that time looked like a mountain, wasn’t sure if I would make it. I was grinding it out, thought I was done, then I started to hear what sounded like bagpipes….I thought this was it….my ancestors were coming down from heaven to take me away….again when I looked up I saw a man standing at the top of the hill…..in full Irish garb….playing “Amazing Grace” as the sun rose on that Sunday morning….yup, I started crying again. Throughout Day Two…..more signs….more encouragement from the side of the road….and finally I reached our rallying point. Physically and emotionally exhausted. But so proud to be part of such a great team, that is doing such great work. Crossing the finish line was incredible. Not a dry eye in the group…the love, support, feeling of accomplishment. Being a part of something so much bigger than ourselves….overwhelming. After that I was hooked. In subsequent years there have been more stories….Bastrop Park (where Satin lives), getting lost, poison ivy, too many memories to share at one time…each year I meet more and more people that live with MS. Each year we get closer and closer to a cure. I share this story with you because I think it’s important to remember why we do what we do. We’ve started off a little slow in fund raising this year….and if we are going to make the Million Dollar mark we need ALL of you to get after the fund raising. As I write this we are currently at $15,890.00 out of the $65,000 needed to break that barrier, to get the money needed for research, to get us a step closer to finding that cure. We can do it….but we have to do it together….so please make the ask. Don’t settle for the $250 minimum….push yourself out of your comfort zone. You will be glad you did, when you cross that finish line knowing you trained hard and gave fund raising your best effort….it’s a great feeling….now get out there and ATTACK IT!!!