Wednesday, July 17, 2013

BIKE MS Mid Michigan Volunteer Weekend ! #BIKEMS #MultipleSclerosis #fundraiser #volunteeropportunity

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 I have been blessed by the MS Society since I was diagnosed almost 8 years ago. Especially my local Michigan Chapter. So when I get an opportunity to Volunteer I jump at it. One of the events I love to help with is the BIKE MS 150 that takes place every July for the last 28 years. Starting in Linden,MI at Lake Fenton High School and traveling to Lansing,MI spending the night at MSU in a dorm and then returning back to LF High School the next morning for the finish. Hard work by all involved is then celebrated with a BBQ that is fit for a King. I also love using this opportunity to include one of my children for quality one on one time and showing them the true spirit of giving back to a charity that is personal to our family.

   In the past I have taken Nick but this year Alyx wanted to do it, so it became his turn. It is an experience that one truly does not get until they partake themselves. We had to get up at 5 AM Saturday Morning and head to the High School about 30 minutes from our campground. When we arrived we were given our Volunteer Shirt and our duties for that location. I was on registration detail and Alyx was added to the team that needed to load luggage into trucks as well as all the gear that needed to be moved to MSU later that morning. Time flew by as we checked in all the riders, I barely saw Alyx he was so busy and by 9 AM we were on the road to Lansing about an hour North West from where we started out.

   When we arrived at MSU it was a flurry of activity as we had to hurry and get everything set up before the riders started arriving. The first rider was estimated to arrive between 11 and Noon.  I was given the job of joining the Merchandising and Hospitality team. We had to set up all the LOGO merchandise that was to be sold to help raise money for MS Research, there were polar water bottles for bike riders, wristbands, towels, bike repair kits, teddy bears, and coffee mugs and tote bags among other things. We also had water and fruit and cookies for all the bikers and guests.

  Again Alyx was busy and I hardly saw him, I was so proud of how hard he was working, and it was HOT!! I texted him to make sure he stopped for lunch and was drinking enough water to stay hydrated. The first rider came across the line at about 1130AM. We received boxed lunches for lunch that were quite tasty. Around 5PM we had to take down the tents and put all of the merchandise away and Alyx and the team loaded it all into the trucks to be ready to head back to Linden the next morning. After we were all done there was no time to rest, we checked into our Dorm, we were staying in Rather Hall, took our luggage in and cranked on our air conditioning so it  was comfortable for sleeping, whenever that would come.

   Next on the agenda was Dinner in Brody Hall's newly renovated Cafeteria and I all I have to say about that is WOW! I would love to be a student there.... It was all you can eat and there were many stations, I played it safe and within my diet and did Shrimp Stir Fry. It was delicious and the cool thing is all of the produce used in my dinner was grown right there on campus in their Agriculture Dept.'s Greenhouses. Alyx at until his heart's content and he deserved it he worked so hard.

Then after dinner we had about a half an hour of down time and then it was off the President's Cocktail Party across the street on the Patio of the Kellogg Center. This was an intimate gathering with snacks and drinks and the President of the Chapter spoke of all of the research fundraisers like the Bike MS event have funded. There are so many breakthroughs on the horizon, it is to say the least exciting. Then there was a young Mom, 34 years old who was just diagnosed in February, her Dad has had MS for 34 years and she talked about her experiences with MS being part of her family growing up and now for her and her family again with her. I was really choked up by this time, it brought back many memories of my own diagnosis. A Cure needs to be found, It breaks my heart to know of how many people suffer with this devastating disease. Promising gains have been made, for instance when I first found out I had MS the only med therapies that were available were in shot or transfusion form, now there are several pills on the market that make life a little easier for us patients.

     One of the inspirational moments of the party was when they introduces John, who is almost 94 years old and rides his Bike in the MS 150, this year on Saturday he was sad to say he only did 60 Miles. Holy COW!! Only 60, I wish I could do 2 miles. He truly was an inspiration!
                                               John is on the left...
The other inspirational moment was when they asked those that had participated for 5, 10,15 and 20 years, many raised their hands and then they got to 25 yrs and a couple still had their hands up. That was so neat to see, such dedication.

So much so that Alyx signed up to run the Fall Breakaway for MS on September 21,2013. This is a combined 14 mile Mountain Bike Race, there is a 5 mile or 9 mile as well but his goal is to do the combined 14 mile race. He is super excited and I am so proud of his commitment. If you feel led to contribute to his fundraising efforts please feel free to make a tax deductible donation on his BIKE MS page by clicking on the link below. It would mean so much to both of us...

  The 2nd morning it was up at 5:25 AM to get dressed and ready to start the day, get breakfast and check out of our dorm, Alyx was to help load all of the rider's luggage back into the truck and any last minute supplies and then get on the road back to Linden. Everyone was tired and it showed,but did not stop anyone from plugging along.
  I was privileged to witness a team's morning prayer for safety and guidance along the route on this HOT July day. 
    Here is the efforts of Alyx's Labor all luggage unloaded back in Linden and sorted according to biker numbers.

One of my jobs on this final day was creating the balloon towers for the finish line. It was fun to learn to do, even though every 
time a balloon popped we all jumped and screamed LOL.

All the riders received medals for their efforts ...

The days were long and hot, but worth every minute, we cannot wait to do it again next year, so we decided to volunteer for the 2 day ride in Frankenmuth the last weekend of September. I sure hope it is cooler weather but if not we will do it anyway. 

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