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Symbolic inspiration

Written by on Sep 17, 2009

It's the last day of the 2009 three-day, 50-mile MS Challenge Walk,, and there are a little more than five miles to go. As a bicycle support crewman, I'm riding up to an intersection when I notice Carolyn coming around the corner behind me. At this crossing, we will be going uphill. I am going to ride my bicycle up that hill, as my legs work fine, I have very good balance, and I can do almost as much on my bicycle as the average person can do on two feet — but Carolyn is rounding the corner in her wheelchair. She is a vibrant young woman who is in a wheelchair because multiple sclerosis has stopped her legs from working.

I have been part of the MS Challenge walk for five years now. I've walked it twice and have been bike crew for three more. Carolyn has been here for years as well. I remember seeing her standing a while back, but for these last couple of years, I have seen her only in that wheelchair.

The road is never lonely when you have the support of your fellow MS Challenge Walkers.

The road is never lonely when you have the support of your fellow MS Challenge Walkers. Photo courtesy Andrew Child.

At this moment, though, all that is on my mind is to make sure Carolyn makes it up that hill. I can see in her eyes that getting up that hill is all that fills her mind as well. She does not want the walker behind her to lend a gentle push up the hill; she is going to get up this thing herself. So off we go. I remember looking at her and thinking, she's so tiny, I hope she can pull this off. I started with my bike in first gear, and she's behind me pushing along. We're moving almost as fast as most of the walkers. But this hill is steep and long, so before you know it, we've gone about fifty or sixty yards. I have to step off the bike and walk because we are moving so slow, I can no longer maintain balance.

Carolyn is starting to labor as she thrusts her hands downward, driving her wheels forward. I can see a look on her face — the look you see on the finest athletes when they are digging deep for that last bit of strength. We go a little farther. The walker behind her says, "Let me know if you want help." Carolyn doesn't respond until she gets through this push, then she pauses for a second in her wheelchair. We are a little more than halfway up. A pretty good size group of walkers has built up behind her. She doesn't appear to know how many are back there, but they are there. So she pauses, still looking straight up that hill. I look at her and say, "Come on kid, you can do this." Carolyn looks up at me and says, "This is my Rocky moment." With a little grin on her face, she starts driving her wheelchair forward again. Over her shoulder she responds to the walker, "I'm okay, this is one of my goals, I have to get over this hill." So we continue on.

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I walk for my wife, Patty, diagnosed with MS in 1994. I walked for my first two years but decided to switch to bike crew on my third year, a role I've enjoyed these past two years. If you need water, Tootsie Pops, or anything else, let me know. Patty and I have met so many wonderful people over these past years and together we can hopefully contribute to the cure.

Strength in numbers

Written by on May 5, 2009

In 2004, I signed up for my first MS Challenge Walk. Why? Because my wife signed up for her first Challenge Walk. Patty was diagnosed with MS in 1994. Since she first received that news, we have tried to do everything we can to fight this wicked disease. The best way we have found is the MS Challenge Walk — and, of course, those pesky doctor visits, excerise, and diet.

When Patty first told our friends and family she was going to take part in the walk, one person after another said I want to walk with you. This was how the Blister Buddies team began. As a team, we partner with rotary clubs, Lions clubs, and any other organization that will help our cause. Patty has also spoken at a number of organizations to raise awareness. Each year, we partner at a wine auction, raising thousands of dollars. We also partner at the BluesNBrews Festival, which has been both beneficial and fun. We've held yard sales, prepared fine dinners in people's homes, and organized motorcycle runs and casino nights, just to name a few. Every year, another team member has a new idea of ways to raise money. We all take turns working at these events and enjoy each others company very much.

We train together, walking and bicycling on the Nashua River Rail Trail. These training walks aren't all work and no play. When we are on the rail trail, our walks almost always pause for breakfast at the halfway point. When we gather for team meetings, we usually include a delicious meal, some cocktails, and a lot of laughs.

Somehow, doing all of these things as a group makes all of the work seem like it's not work at all. Together, we have raised a lot of money for a great cause — and hopefully, together we will see a cure.

I walk for my wife, Patty, diagnosed with MS in 1994. I walked for my first two years but decided to switch to bike crew on my third year, a role I've enjoyed these past two years. If you need water, Tootsie Pops, or anything else, let me know. Patty and I have met so many wonderful people over these past years and together we can hopefully contribute to the cure.