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Are you ready to support 600+ walkers? Whether you're cheering or riding, these posts are meant for you.

 

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.

My version of crew training

Written by on August 13, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Wow! Only a month until the MS Challenge Walk. I better start doing some training.

Crew training, that is. There's the official training session that the chapter just held, but I'm referring to the training that we all do on our own. Here's how I recommend my fellow crew members prepare for the big event:

  1. Rest your vocal cords for the next month. Keep talking to an absolute minimum, because you are going to need all your cheering volume when the walk rolls around in September.
  2. Toughen your hands by practicing clapping for extended periods of time. Otherwise, your hands will be stinging shortly after you start on the first day, and you will have no feeling in them by the end of the weekend.
  3. Give up all pretenses of dignity as you prepare your outfits for the themed rest stops (when I think of some of the things I have worn).
  4. Make sure you know what poison ivy looks like (I have sat in it twice now). The pink calamine lotion doesn't look good on anyone.
  5. Make sure you practice your picture-taking skills and that you're on the right side of the camera when #3–4 happen.
  6. Prepare to have a great weekend!

Jill lives in East Taunton with her husband and a very annoying cat. She was diagnosed with MS in 1998 when she was 24. She has been participating in the Challenge Walk since the beginning as a crew member and can also be found at many other fundraising events.

What to expect at the medical tents

Written by on August 9, 2010 at 10:45 am

I have had the opportunity to experience the medical tents both as a walker and as a nurse. The medical crew is available for everything you may need as a walker or as a crew member. As a walker you may develop sore, blistered feet; the crew will mend you with ointments, bandages, gauze, and advice. You may develop sore or swollen joints; the crew will ice and wrap you up! Maybe you will suffer a bit of dehydration or heat exhaustion. They will cool you down and nourish you with fluids. Aches and pains? A little Tylenol or Advil will do!

The main medical tent is available at the Sea Camps from 6 AM until the last patient leaves, and each rest stop has a medical station with nearly everything you might need on your two-day, 30-mile journey. Should the need arise for more intensive medical treatment, the crew will stabilize you until more advanced care arrives.

As a walker my first year, I was treated with TLC, and I saw all walkers treated that way. As a nurse on medical crew my second year, I treated everyone with the same TLC! But no matter how well you're treated, the best care is preventive. Over the next few Mondays, I'll give some medical advice that you can use to take care of yourself and avoid any medical emergencies. Stay tuned!

Jacqui is a registered nurse working in home dialysis, living in Denver, Colorado. Born and rasied in Gray, Maine, Jacqui was diagnosed with MS in 2003 and has been participating in the MS Challenge Walk since 2007. This year is the first time she's had her own team, Whittaker's Warriors.

Biking and walking for a cure

Written by on September 23, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Note: This post is courtesy guest author Jim Moran.

This was my third year doing the MS Challenge Walk, and my third year on the bike crew. Riding support is always a fun time, as I get the chance to ride with some really great bike riders; it felt like we'd been riding together for ages!

The best part of being on the bike crew though is getting to see and meet the wonderful people that walk in the event.  We get a great opportunity as bike crew to frequently check in on the walkers and get to know many of them rather well.

The stalwart Jim Moran, victorious over both heel and wheel. Photo courtesy Sara Wells.

The stalwart Jim Moran, victorious over both heel and wheel. Photo courtesy Sara Wells.

That said, this was the first year that I actually got on my feet and walked the final ten miles with the rest of the D-Terminators team and get the chance to experience the walk from their perspective.  To their surprise — and mine! — there were no blisters or other anticipated aches and pains.  But I did get the chance to feel the support and the kindness that's always being given by the crew we encounter on the route.

The only down side of walking was I only got to interact with the few walkers that were in the same area that I was in, instead of seeing everyone's smiling faces as I rode up and down the trail. Everyone on the walk is so great, I can't help but want to see them all!

Being on the support crew is a great way to support the walk and be a part of it.  Consider registering as crew for the 2010 event. That's the way I plan to continue doing the walk for as long as I'm "young enough" to do it.  Hopefully the cure we all pray for will be found before I'm "old enough" to have to stop.

Ken, an Arlington resident, joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also an alumnus of the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.

Zis boom bah!

Written by on September 7, 2009 at 1:45 pm

You've been walking for 19 miles — which is probably nineteen times farther then you've ever walked in your life. You hot, you're tired, your hungry, you're thirsty, and you desperately need a massage. The Cape Cod Rail Trail seems to extend indefinitely… but off in the distance, what's that you hear? Is that cheering? And not just an occasional holler, but constant and consistent hoots, applause, and merrymaking. Who could they be cheering for?

You turn the corner… and tears start streaming down your face. All the cheering? It's for you.

We walkers think we have it tough, walking 50 miles in three days. But at least we can admit it and grumble about it. The crew somehow finds the energy to be optimistic, enthusiastic, and encouraging all day long. They wear goofy costumes, employ noisy noisemakers, and never budge from either their position or disposition. They do it for the walkers, because they know sometimes what we need to keep going can't be found in a bottle of Gatorade.

If you need help in your quest to free the world from MS, the crew is there to help you, whether they be familiar faces or new ones. And if you cross the finish line and find yourself with a reserve of energy, consider giving back:return to the finish line and cheer the folks who come in after you. You needed that boost, and they might, too.

Ken, an Arlington resident, joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2005, more than a decade after his mother was diagnosed. After walking for three years and 150 miles, he switched to the support crew and now rides his bicycle along the trail, providing whatever encouragement (and snacks!) he can to the 600 walkers. He is also an alumnus of the event's steering committee and is this site's webmaster.

We want to entertain you!

Written by on July 1, 2009 at 1:17 pm

This is not the walker you're looking for!

This is not the walker you're looking for!

Every year about this time, each crew starts coming up with different ideas for rest stop themes. Each stop is always a surprise for the walkers and is usually pretty amusing. Over the years, the crews have come up with some imaginative stops, with such themes as a wedding, Mardi Gras, pajama party, Star Wars, the Eighties, Halloween, The Wizard of Oz, villains, OktoberFest, and a Hawaiian luau, to name but a few. I wish I could name more, but like I said I never get to see the other stops!

I have seen some of the ideas which have come up for suggestion this year, and they are great. But the real point of this post is to ask you, the walkers, what would you like to see? Maybe a movie theme? Gone with the Wind? Maybe a profession? Doctors and nurses? Give us some ideas! Who knows, you may see your suggestion at one of the stops.

Jill lives in East Taunton with her husband and a very annoying cat. She was diagnosed with MS in 1998 when she was 24. She has been participating in the Challenge Walk since the beginning as a crew member and can also be found at many other fundraising events.

Crew training — no, not the training you are thinking of

Written by on June 15, 2009 at 9:59 am

The Challenge Walk is only three months away, which means it's time to be training. But crew training is so different from walker training. For crew, now is the time we come up with our themes for the rest stops — the wackier the better for my crew!

We need to be inventive in how to keep the walkers entertained and give them a few smiles as they go through our rest stop. Who knows what costumes we'll get for this year? Over the years, I have been a pirate, a leprechaun, a Jedi Knight, an evil clown, and the world's largest Munchkin, to name a few. With the little bit of rain we got last year, my Jedi Knight costume, complete with bright yellow Wellington boots, looked more like the Gordon fisherman. I didn't look very professional in any of these costumes — but that wasn't the point. The point was to make the walkers comfortable and happy!

I'll soon be looking through the huge tote of costumes that I have been accumulating and see what I can pull out. After I've made my selections, my luggage will be about four times as much as any walker brings. How else would I fit in a military-sized squirt gun, Wellington boots, cowboy hat, and who knows what else? I'm hoping that someday, my appearance will be that of a person cured of MS — but that it won't be a costume, it will be the real me. That will be one costume that I will be happy to wear for the rest of my life.

Jill lives in East Taunton with her husband and a very annoying cat. She was diagnosed with MS in 1998 when she was 24. She has been participating in the Challenge Walk since the beginning as a crew member and can also be found at many other fundraising events.

Starting the crew experience — in a van

Written by on June 1, 2009 at 11:34 am

Somehow, I have become the driver of the crew van for my crew. I've been driving since that first year when we were all still trying to figure out how to manage this great new event, the MS Challenge Walk. A fifteen-passenger van filled with strangers seemed like nothing to me. My first car when I was 16 was a 1979 GMC Cargo Van. How different could it be?

Quite a bit different, it turns out. When I was driving my beloved van (black with a big white smiley face on the side) in high school, I'd have only one passenger in the other bucket seat, in addition to anyone who wanted to sit on the floor in the back. But in the crew van that first year, we were stuffed in like sardines with all our gear for the stops. People and gear there was plenty of. Sense of direction? Not so much, but plenty of back seat driving. I made so many three-point turns in that huge van, it was comical. And I managed to hit only ten curbs in the process!

As I continue driving the crew vans every year, the amount of gear increases, but fewer people means less cramming, and the strangers are now my dear friends. We still don't ever have any sense of direction, we still get lost at least twice each year, and I still hit curbs, though fewer of them. But we get there. What would the walkers do without us? And what would we do without them?

Jill lives in East Taunton with her husband and a very annoying cat. She was diagnosed with MS in 1998 when she was 24. She has been participating in the Challenge Walk since the beginning as a crew member and can also be found at many other fundraising events.