Invitation to Bike MS Arizona, October 9th & 10th, 2021

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CurbingMS

Dear Curbside Cyclery Friends,

I hope you are doing well, staying healthy & active and thriving during these unprecedented times of Covid-19. Last year was like no other for all of us and it continues. I’m sure each of you has stories to tell of hardship, challenges & adversity and perhaps some even of good fortune & success. Life during the pandemic at Curbside Cyclery morphed into a blur as each day mirrored the previous as bike sales skyrocketed (while bikes were still in stock!) and service became a deluge of bikes sorely in need of attention & Mike’s technical expertise. And while the pandemic fed a frenzy of people clamoring to get outside, we trudged on – Mike working an average of 16-18 hour days with not even our normal Tuesday “off” & me trying to support Mike while taking care of the home front and life outside of the shop. And then in December, after several months of unexplained, increasingly debilitating symptoms, lots of “rule-outs”, lab work, tests and deep dives into a myriad of possible reasons for my misery, I was diagnosed with MS. 

If you are a bit stunned by this news, I was too! WOW! I was dumbfounded yet relieved all at the same time. I remember thinking, so, I’m NOT going crazy, there is an explanation for my world feeling topsy turvy and now I have a name for it…but MS? This happens to OTHER people. How did this happen to me, why did this happen to me, how long has this been going on, how will it impact my life? I was engulfed with questions and self-absorbed with trying to understand the “whys”.

Although I had heard about MS, I didn’t really know much about it, so it’s been an education. MS is short for multiple sclerosis – an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system (composed of the brain, spinal cord & optic nerves) that disrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the rest of the body. Within the CNS, the immune system causes inflammation that damages myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves, and the specialized cells that make myelin. When myelin or nerve fibers are damaged or destroyed in MS, messages within the CNS are altered or stopped completely. The damage or scarring to areas of the CNS may then produce a variety of neurological symptoms that will vary among people with MS in type and severity.

I haven’t broadcast my diagnosis but to whom I have shared, the common thread in many conversations has been one of HOPE as treatment & research for MS has greatly advanced over the years and one of ENCOURAGEMENT as many know someone living with MS, report how well he/she is doing & have even offered for me to talk to them. I appreciated these messages of optimism & hope, but I needed some time initially to process my own diagnosis, figure out how MS impacted my life (which is really a life-long process) as well as to feel better physically before I was ready to hear about the stories of others, let alone talk to them about their journey. I know everyone’s experience with MS is different, as it is with any other diagnosis.

Fast forward several months…even though I still have many unanswered questions and I’m in the infancy of my MS journey, I’ve realized that my diagnosis is an opportunity to do something positive, 

Make a difference and take some control back from MS. I just can’t be a recipient of hope and encouragement. I need to GIVE IT, share it, inspire it, be that for someone else, turn something that can be life shattering into something life affirming. How can I do that? It seems like a no brainer, really. The bike shop girl should just get on her bike and ride, right? Well, now that I CAN physically ride again after being off my bike for several months & even with some new limitations (like coordination issues when it’s really hot which is ALL summer in Arizona!), I’m motivated & invigorated to dust off the cobwebs and get pedaling again. 

So, I’m here today to invite YOU to join me in riding Bike MS Arizona, October 9th & 10th, 2021 to find a cure for MS – not only for me but for over 1 million people afflicted with MS and to be that beacon of hope to others. 

Kathy Griffiths, Marian Pease & I have created a team, Curbing MS for this event with an ambitious fundraising goal of $10,000. We’ve been granted a waiver code for the registration fee which is included on your Bike MS card (attached) along with details about the event. The individual minimum fundraising goal is $250 by packet pick-up. You can view my individual fundraising page here. When you register for our team, you can ride either day or both days and the mileage option of your choice. Marian & I plan to ride only on Saturday, October 9th, the 48-mile route. If you aren’t a cyclist, you can still support our team by donating, promoting this event in your own circle of family & friends, and coming out to cheer us on!

Thank you for your time, support, and joining me to ride Bike MS to make a difference & find a cure together!

Happy Riding!

Steph

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