People who ride in Bike MS may do so to support family members, friends or coworkers who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. But, there are also legions of participants who live—and ride—with the disease, despite challenges such as fatigue or weakness. I Ride with MS is a special Society program that celebrates Bike MS cyclists who are also living with multiple sclerosis.
Anyone living with MS who is interested in cycling to support the MS movement can join the program, enjoy special day-of-event benefits and receive a complimentary “I Ride with MS” jersey. Genzyme and MS One to One, and Primal Wear are proud supporters of the I Ride with MS program, available through all 100 Bike MS events nationwide.
I Ride with MS participants are not only committed to cycling to create a world free of MS, but to increasing awareness. For more information or to register for the program, find your Bike MS event below or contact the Society to sign up for this program today!
I Ride with MS Ambassadors
TODD FRAUENDORFER: GROWING HIS COMMITMENT
To Aurora, Ill., resident Todd Frauendorfer, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007, when it comes to supporting the MS movement, the more the merrier.“We knew the best way to raise more money was to get more riders,” Todd says, who formed his Bike MS team Petal Pushers/Cool Wave with a coworker in 2012. “We’ve more than doubled our team size simply by asking last year’s team members to invite at least one coworker, family member or friend to join them on the ride.”
Once diagnosed, Todd began to learn as much as he could about the disease, determined to keep it from changing his life as much as possible. Along the way, he discovered that Bike MS offered a range of positive actions he could take. “Bike MS gives me a great opportunity to raise awareness, educate others, encourage those who are also diagnosed, and raise money to support the programs that improve the lives of those living with the disease,” he says. “It’s one way that I can actually feel like I’m doing something about MS, rather than just living with it.”
Todd’s hard work raising funds and growing his team is paying off, literally. Pedal Pushers/Cool Wave is currently ranked one of the top Bike MS teams in Illinois, after having raised $20,000 in its first year with a group of 27 riders. “I believe that if everyone would ask one person to join them at Bike MS, we could dramatically grow this great event and its impact in the lives of those living with the disease,” Todd says.
NANCY DRESSEL: CRANKIN' FOR A CURE
Nancy Dressel always finds a way to give to the MS movement, whether she’s raising money by selling her hand-sewn aprons at a farmer’s market near her home in Port Orchard, Wash.; riding a recumbent bicycle to lead her Bike MS team, Crankin’ for a Cure; or, connecting with people to spread awareness about MS.
“I’m loud,” says Nancy, who was diagnosed in 1990 at age 35. “I’m not shy. I want to be out in the fun. I want to talk to people.” Which is why Bike MS is such a great fit for her. “The riders just blow me away,” she explains. “They’re out there cranking 150 miles and before that, they’re knocking on people’s doors for donations, and some of them don’t even know anyone with MS. I’ve had grown men get down on their knees to face me on my recumbent bike and say, ‘tell me your story.’ It chokes me up.”
Nancy had been volunteering at the Society for years when her daughter Jenn, who was also a volunteer and a Society board member in Seattle, formed the Crankin’ for a Cure team in 2006 and convinced her mother to join. The team soon grew to include Nancy’s other daughter, Stephanie, and more than 20 friends and family members, including three small supporters who make up in enthusiasm what they lack in size.
“My grandson Trey was only three weeks old at my first ride in 2012,” says Nancy. “Now my family includes twin grandsons, Luca and Weston, so last year I had three grandsons sitting on my power chair at the ride.”
For Nancy, Bike MS is perhaps most of all a way to connect with the community. “I use the words ‘warm and fuzzy’ when talking about my neurologist because you’ve got be able to talk about everything with a neurologist. Well, the experience of Bike MS is also warm and fuzzy. I felt that immediately—the riders just accepted me right away into the fold.”
FONTELLA ADDO: START FROM WHERE YOU ARE
Fontella Addo, 30, remembers her first experience with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society when she was going through yet another of what had become an annual MS exacerbation. “A woman from the Society helped me to get my first wheelchair,” she says. “I had to accept that I needed a chair at the time of the exacerbation and I couldn’t afford it. She made phone calls and did everything she could to help.”
Fontella continued to use services that the Society offered, but hadn’t considered Bike MS as a way to give back until last year, when a coworker found out she had MS and asked her to join his team, The Spokesmen. “When he found out, oh man, he pushed, pushed, pushed,” Fontella, who lives in Leominster, Mass., remembers. “I was like, I will do anything to help, but I haven’t ridden a bike since I was 10.” But he didn’t give up. “He kept pushing, so I finally joined the team and that was that.”
Fontella’s first ride took place last year in the Bike MS: Cape Cod Getaway. “It was definitely a learning experience for me,” she says. “I challenged myself within my limitations.” She then experienced another exacerbation that October. “Had you asked me last year, I would have been planning to train in the gym on a bike all year. I would’ve bet everything I’d be in tiptop riding shape, but the reality is that I’ll be in whatever shape my body allows me to be.”
And, after years of experience since her diagnosis in 2003, she knows to listen to that body. “It took getting sick several times to realize how my body works,” she says. She began exercising and watching her diet. “That’s when I learned to feel better,” she says, going three years without an exacerbation. As an I Ride with MS participant, she hopes to use her own experience with the disease to inspire others. “People don’t understand what it’s like to be there, trying to get back, to get to where you want to be. It’s important not to get discouraged. You have to learn to work with the circumstances, start from where you are and build from there.”