Saturday, September 02, 2006

Zak's Ride

*Sometimes when we know someone personally going through what we pray doesn't happen, we give more openly, freely and with love for it to affect their life profoundly. *

I am writing to ask you to sponsor my ride in the 2006 MS150 Bike Tour, to raise funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS). This year, the 150 mile bike tour (Sept. 16 and 17) takes us round- trip from St. Augustine Airport to Daytona Beach.
I ride in the MS150 each year to support my sister Valerie and the research of the NMSS. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease which causes my sister's immune system to attack her central nervous system. Valerie was diagnosed with MS two years ago, after months of medical testing and referrals to specialists. She should have been diagnosed with MS ten years ago, but many physicians still misdiagnose MS as fibro myalgia and depression without doing further testing.
In 2004, Valerie frequently lost her balance and fell -- continuing a pattern that started five or six years ago. Her legs sometimes just decided to collapse; her knees then banged into floors, or her head banged into doors, and she often ended up in the emergency room. She now walks with a cane, and can only walk short distances. Many days, the depression alone can be debilitating. Headaches, scrambled speech, and other neurological symptoms are common. Fortunately, fleeting moments of blindness and blurred vision have been rare, so Valerie can still drive and function independently.
In 2005, Valerie had to change medications due to the toll the first medication took on her liver. She usually feels "wiped out" the day after injecting her weekly medication. Valerie is fortunate, however. The medication she takes now has been effective in stopping the progression of MS, even though her condition has not significantly improved.
Most days, Valerie shares her laughter with others and give thanks for all that is good in her life. She volunteers at a women's residential treatment facility. She has an amazing amount of faith. As a result, when she and her children need something that she can no longer afford on her limited disability income, it somehow just manifests. I admire Valerie -- she is my teacher, my hero.
Research into the causes of MS and the best possible treatment continues. The NMSS provides valuable educational materials, wheel chair assistance, support groups, research funding, and other resources to assist people with MS and their families. However, the NMSS relies on OUR donations.
I love Valerie very much. I ride in the MS150 because I know that one day, through faith, funding, research, and action, we fill find a cure for MS. Please sponsor my ride in the 2006 MS150 Bike Tour. Although I had a major crash on 08/19/06, I am recuperating, and still plan to ride in mid-September. (A bee flew down my shirt while I was cycling, and stung me three times. I slammed on brakes, and flew over the handlebars onto the asphalt.)
Donating is easy. You can either: (a) mail me a check made payable to National Multiple Sclerosis Society; (b) donate via the internet by visiting, clicking on E-Pledge, and typing in my name as the participant; or (c) bring donations and something to eat or drink to my annual Sharing Party on September 9 (7:00 PM - until). Please be generous! I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you!

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