15 February 2011

The Fight Against MS

Phil Keoghan and two women with MSThis is what my refurb iPhone can do in a dark theater...

I attended the Denver screening of "The Ride" to hear and meet "Amazing Race" host Phil Keoghan in person last week.

And all I can say is... "AMAZING!!!!!"

The Lizard and I have no cable at my house (by choice) and don't watch television (no time anyway), so I didn't know who this dude is, but last week's event was a benefit for the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, with ALL proceeds going to the charity. Regal Cinemas charged nothing for hosting this event and even provided a larger theater than originally planned when tickets for the smaller theater sold out.

Keoghan pedaled his Specialized Roubaix (Snowcatcher rides a Specialized Allez!) all the way across the US in 2009 to raise money and awareness for multiple sclerosis research. He, his best friend, his dad and a former California highway patrol officer spent 43 days crossing the US, averaging 100 miles per day and stopping in 39 cities, including Pagosa Springs and Denver, en route from Los Angeles to New York City. They raised $500,000 for MS in less than two months!!

When I first heard about this movie, I wondered if Keoghan knew anything about cycling. Last week, I found out he shares a love of two wheels just like me, although he says his riding across America dreams have been achieved, and he has no plans to repeat the feat.

He was racing his beater-up bicycle around the island of Antigua at the age of 10 and 11. So he knew how to ride, and he knew how to fuel his body. He didn't, however, know how hard 3,500 miles in 43 days can be on the body. This was not an easy task, but he rose to the occasion, even after being "bumped" by a car (in Colorado, of all places) and taking a good bite out of angled railroad tracks with more than 1,000 miles left to ride. He endoed, bruised his hip and leg, cut his face, tore his jersey and shorts and banged his helmeted head, and yet, following a visit to the local emergency room, he kept going. He didn't want to let down all the people who were following his progress and waiting for him in towns ahead.

Keoghan didn't just ride. He made appearances before riding each day, he made appearances after riding each day, he took the time to meet and talk to each person who stood in line to see him, signing autographs and listening to their stories, and he fulfilled all his "Amazing Race" duties and press interviews along the way. He battled Colorado's infamous wind. Oh, and he also kept up a blog! (which sadly, is no longer available) Having done a few long rides of my own, none this long, I think he did not sleep during those 43 days. In my opinion, he's got a little bit of Superman deep down inside.

To me, it appears Keoghan is doing for multiple sclerosis what Lance Armstrong has done for cancer. People with MS drove for up to four hours to meet Keoghan in the towns he stopped in during his ride, and two of the people he met along the way are his best memories of the ride, he said during a question-and-answer period after the screening of the film in Denver last week.

I'm not going to tell you about those two men because if you see the film, you'll quickly figure out which guys he's talking about. Both will bring tears to your eyes and give you just the determination you need to keep your own goals and priorities in sight.

Keoghan said he got involved with MS because many, many people kept approaching him for sponsorship of a wide variety of very worthy causes. He said he didn't want to do a hit and run... He didn't want to sponsor something for one day or one week, then move on to something else. He wanted to sponsor something he could put time and effort into, something he could devote a chunk of his life to.

After he formed a youth cycling team to benefit MS plus groom up-and-coming athletes for potential professional cycling careers, he learned a cousin has MS. So now, just like the rest of us who know too many people afflicted with multiple sclerosis, he has a connection. He is fighting MS from the heart.

This movie was among the most inspirational I've ever seen, and I highly recommend it. Take a good amount of tissue, though. This movie will hit you in places in your heart you didn't know exist.

Meanwhile, in my own fund-raising drive to benefit the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, "Carol" put me at the halfway mark on Monday, which means I am now a Premium Pedaler for the 2012 MS-150. I once again will get to register early, and I will get a discount on my registration fees. The most exciting thing, of course, is that this milestone was reached before half of my team (Great-West) has even registered! You, my readers, are amazing in your own right! Thank you for keeping the drive alive!

The Lizard is just $30 from his halfway mark, and if he is able to achieve his fund-raising goal this year, he will be a Premium Pedaler for the first time ever. And that certainly will make his Lizard Tail wag!

2009 start line
2009 Start Line

5 comments :

  1. You often hear people say that one person can't make a difference in this world but we all know that one person CAN make a difference.

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  2. You and The Lizard ARE making a difference. I talked with a person, I just met, and their father has MS...I told them about you and The Lizard riding in a Marathon for MS.

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  3. thanks for sharing this story. I think I am most amazed at keeping a schedule, heck I can't even keep my lesson plans on track for a week.

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  4. Wow, you're right. That is amazing! We've been watching Phil host The Amazing Race for years but didn't know about his ride for MS. Will definitely have to see the movie. Good for you and your sweetie for riding so hard to benefit others and keeping yourselves healthy (and off the couch)!!!

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  5. Wow- what an impressive story. I am photographing the MS walk in our area with a couple of photographer friends this spring and am very excited to be part of it.

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