Participants in the past several years of MS Challenge Walk have borne witness to a most incredible and inspiring individual: Carolyn Rossi, who wheels herself up, down, and across Cape Cod in pursuit of a cure for multiple sclerosis. I spoke with Carolyn last week in an interview that introduced many walkers to a person whose drive and determination are nearly unparalleled.
But it's not just her fellow walkers who Carolyn inspires. Her husband, Brian, is on the bicycle support crew, and two years ago shared with us how he marvels at his wife's strength. This year, he has these thoughts about the importance his fellow crew play not just to the walk as a whole, but to the intensely personal experience that is his and Carolyn's MS Challenge Walk. Here is Brian in his own words.
The MS Challenge Walk is one of those annual events that occur when, regardless of anything else going on in our lives or around us, we can come together as one united family to fight for a great cause! Year after year, people make the trek to the Cape and lace up their shoes, pump up their tires, purchase ample amounts of Body Glide products, and tough it out for three long hard days. We arrive on Thursday evenings and for the next hour or more, we embrace and do lots of catching up with our "family" members that we haven't seen in about a year. It is truly awesome!
I'd like to personally thank each and every person and team that participates in this event. I'd like to especially thank all of the unsung heroes of the MS Walk that work behind the scenes or do something as simple as handing out candy, bananas, granola bars, water, gatorade, etc at the many rest stops. If any one of these important people were missing, the event just would not be the same.
I'd like to extend a special thanks to my fellow bike crew members. First, thank you for welcoming me in to the fold year after year. Most important, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the silent and for some, not so silent guardians to my love, Carolyn Rossi. Each year, one or more of you ease my worries about her whereabouts by making a friendly cell phone call to give me here current location. This year, Todd called me on Saturday to let me know that she was ready for lunch, and if I didn't get there soon with her lunch, she'd "rip my head off!" When I arrived at the welcome center leading up to the lunch stop, he was right there with her keeping her safe.
Rob L. personally had the honor of escorting her up Setucket Rd (Hill) this year as she took on a challenge like none other before. This year she challenged herself to walk up as much of that hill as she could and Rob was by her side each step of the way keeping her safe. In years past, Billy has been by her side keeping her safe and challenging her to push even further. To the other bike crew members who have assisted Carolyn this year and in years past, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for protecting her and being her guardians on bikes. This year, I even saw Dave personally escorting her down the streets of Brewster with his white motorcycle with the trailer attached. Thank you all so much for selflessly giving of your time and attention and for loving Carolyn!
I don't know if many people can understand this or not, but being Carolyn's husband is a tough place to be on the Walk weekend. For me, the walk is solely about Carolyn and her successes and milestones. I try to stay in the background as much as I can. It's not about me! However, nothing blesses me more as her husband than to hear from all of the folks along the route that speak with me privately about how much she inspires them. When I roll in to rest stops on my bike and people see me, they ask, "How is that lovely wife of yours doing" or "Is Carolyn on her way"? This is so moving to witness year after year.
Many of the friends I have made at the MS Challenge Walk have shared with me that seeing Carolyn push herself every year, as difficult as it is, is the high point of their year. I have to agree with that sentiment!!
As awesome as this event is, as much as I love all of you, my true heart's desire is that we didn't have to do this anymore! I'm personally SICK OF IT!!!! Multiple sclerosis took the life of my grandmother — my best friend, someone whom I deeply loved. Today it continues its pesky mission in my wife's life, someone whom I love even more. I see and hear about all of the other "MS Walk Family" members of mine who have been afflicted by it, and it just makes my heart SICK!
So, let's face it folks: the reality is that MS is still around — for now. It's time for people to stop saying and to start doing! It's still attacking people we love! Let's work together in 2013 to bond together AS ONE TEAM to create a world FREE OF MS! Who's with me?
Brian, a resident of Central Massachusetts, has participated for several years in the MS Challenge Walk as a member of the bike support crew. Not only does his wife Carolyn have MS, but his grandmother had MS and eventually died from complications related to it. Brian is best known to as the provider of tropical flavored Starbursts and Jolly Rancher candies along the trail.