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Bouncing into fundraising action

Written by on April 26, 2013 at 12:02 pm

April 20, 2013, was a cold and raw Saturday morning. Despite the less than desirable weather, approximately 50 people came out to the Mercy Centre in Worcester, MA to support Team Walk With Wheels for our first ever MS Volleyball Tournament. Among the teams who came out, we had one of our very own MS Challenge Walk teams (Team Sole Train) come out!

This event was a new event idea for us as a team, and it helped demonstrate how reaching out to your extended team members can help raise funds for your team event. Oftentimes, people think that actual walkers on a given team are the only people who can organize and run events. This is far from the truth!

About one month ago, Carolyn and I reached out to a friend from our church. We knew that this friend had a passion for volleyball and he also organizes sport based activities for our church. We asked him if he would be interested in organizing a volleyball tournament. for us He happily agreed to pull something together.

A few weeks later, Dan informed us that he had designed a flyer for the event and that he already had a few teams that were interested. He also informed us that he had secured a facility and a referee for the event. The event was open for up to eight teams.

Fast forward a few weeks and all eight teams arrived at the Mercy Centre ready to compete and to help raise funds for MS. Dan started the event out with an introduction to Carolyn Rossi (captain of Team Walk With Wheels) and explained that the funds collected for this event were helping people like her.

One at a time, teams went up against teams, slamming the ball around the court. The first game started at 9 AM sharp. As the morning went on the brackets started to fill and teams were advancing toward the final game. As teams took breaks, Dan's wife Loraine graciously stood and served a variety of home prepared foods, baked goods and drinks, which also benefited the National MS Society.

By the end of the event, it was down to two remaining teams of the original eight. The games had become super competitive, and we saw some pretty serious moves! In the end, team Spike City won the tournament and were rewarded with extra large chocolate bars!


After the clean up was taken care of and everyone had returned to their homes, the final tally came in for funds raised. On April 24, 2013, I delivered roughly $600 to the MS Society office for Team Walk With Wheels! Great job to everyone who came out and helped! We couldn't have done it without your support.

I hope this recap encourages you to reach outside the box. It has been mentioned many times at kickstart meetings and the like. If you try to take it all on your shoulders alone, it seems burdensome. Look among your friends and social circle for people who already enjoy doing a particular activity and see if you can leverage their passion and joy of that thing for the benefit of helping people live a life free from MS.

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.

A heartfelt thanks for all those who DO!

Written by on September 12, 2012 at 2:53 pm

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.

Carolyn Rossi on Setucket Hill (2012)

Rob L. personally had the honor of escorting her up Setucket Road (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.

An inspiring revolution

Written by on September 14, 2010 at 12:41 pm

The MS Challenge Walk invites us to take action to create a world free from multiple sclerosis. The event in turn inspires us with the people and acts that we witness along the trail.

Last year, bicycle crewman Craig Thorpe was inspired by seeing Carolyn wheeling up a hill and insisting on doing it herself in what she called her "Rocky moment."

Carolyn's inspiration strikes close to home for her husband, Brian, who was on this year's bike crew. He submitted this guest blog post relating his experience on the MS Challenge Walk.

Many of you may not recognize my name; I am the extremely honored and privileged husband of Carolyn Rossi.  Carolyn is that very joyful and inspiring trooper who wheels the MS Challenge Walk in her red wheelchair, A.K.A "Red", each year for the last five years.

I volunteer on the bike support crew each year and get to work with a great team of guys and gals!

For me, this year included one of my most encouraging and proud moments.  I was completely amazed to see how much the MS Challenge Walk family actually loves my wife and how inspired they are by her determination to push through the burn and pain and fight this disease head on!

Whether it was a casual walker passing by and saying "Great job, you are so inspiring," motorcycle safety crew members embracing her with huge hugs and telling her they loved her, or everyone knowing to queue up "Eye of the Tiger" as she passes by — it is so amazing the love and encouragement that you all bestow upon such a wonderful and inspiring woman! 

As Carolyn exited the second stop on Sunday — the one with the Dunkin' Donuts theme — she literally took a "Dunkie Junkie" t-shirt off someone's back, saying to me "This stop means that freakin' hill is right around the corner!"  Carolyn pushed and pushed up Setucket Hill that morning, keeping her team members close by but not letting them dare touch her wheelchair, with "Eye of the Tiger" blasting. Medical crew bicyclist Billy, several walkers, and fellow bike crew members made comments to me like "She's really gonna do this!" "She's killin' this thing!" "She's haulin' it!" I was such a proud husband!  Sure enough, with each and every push, she inched closer and closer to the peak of that hill.  At the top was one of the motorcycle safety team members saying "You go, girl! I have a 'wow' sticker for you up here — just a little farther!"

Many may not know that I lost my beloved grandmother to complications related to MS. She was not only my grandmother but also a very close friend; I loved her so much!  Part of my heart truly believes that Carolyn was placed in my life to carry the torch for people like my grandmother.  My grandmother would be so proud and honored that her grandson was blessed with such an amazing and courageous wife, and her great-grandson with such an inspiring mother.

Thank you to all for walking this past weekend and making the event a success!  Thank you to each and every person who shared a kind word or thought with my wife.  Just as each wheel and push Carolyn makes inspires all of you, each step you take encourages and inspires Carolyn.  It's what makes her go go go!

Not to get overly religious, but in the Bible there is a passage, Proverbs 31.  This speaks of a "woman of noble character".  In the latter sections of the passage it says "many women do noble things, but you surpass them all".  Carolyn, you are a blessing and an amazing woman!  I love you so much!

Now — get wheeling for next year!!

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.