One bike, two friends, and two fantastic organizations
Portland, OR (September 11, 2007) Side by side on a tandem bike, Steve “Bug” Nail and Marianne Decher, fellow sign language interpreters at Portland Community College, tackled the hills and highways of last month’s 2007 Health Net MS Bike Ride, benefiting the Oregon Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Suited up in VIP MS Bike Ride jerseys—each raised over $1000 for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2006—they mounted the “Pink Beast,” their pinwheel and streamer laced tandem bike and set out on a two-day tour through Forest Grove, Oregon’s wine country and woodlands. Why embark on this hilly journey aboard such a cumbersome contraption—such are the accommodations people make when the unpredictable physical symptoms of MS arise.
Steve and Marianne met in January 2006, hit it off right away and became good friends. After Steve expressed an interest in biking, they trained, planned and fundraised for last year’s MS Bike Ride. Despite his MS symptoms and her knee injury, they completed 90 miles in 90 degree heat, conquering the climbs to finish the ride.
“This year, it was uncertain what we would do,” says Marianne Decher. “As of two weeks ago, Steve was back in his wheelchair. I was originally going to be a support person only and not do the ride. At the last minute, I decided that I would do the ride for Steve. Countless people, whom I’ve never met—Steve’s friends—donated online and helped me raise my registration fee and fundraising goal in under two hours, just five days before the event! But they kept giving, so I kept raising my goal. I no longer wanted to do the ride FOR Steve, I wanted to do it WITH him. So I called everywhere to find a tandem bike where one person can choose not to pedal, if they so wish.”
Having seen tandem bikes for various ability levels again and again at a camp for Deaf and Blind Individuals in Seabeck, WA (Marianne and Steve volunteer there every year), Marianne knew exactly where to look. She and Steve found what they needed at Outdoors for All Foundation in Seattle, WA (www.outdoorsforall.org). With a generous discount from Outdoors for All, the side-by-side tandem bike was transported from Seattle to Portland just two days before the Ride.
“Outdoors for All Foundation made our riding together possible,” continued Marianne. “It would have been very sad to leave Steve at the starting line and just ride by myself. We met many amazing riders with MS, and many without, but I'm biased. I think Steve is extra awesome and way cool. I was howling the first day of the ride from a bee sting on my head. I hardly hear a peep from Steve when he's in pain.”
About Outdoors for All Foundation
The Outdoors for All Foundation began in 1978 with fifteen children with disabilities learning to downhill ski Snoqualmie Summit. After a successful first season, the program was incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization in 1979. Because of its history, Outdoors for All may best be known for winter season instruction in sports like snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross country and downhill skiing. Besides these snow-based activities, Outdoors for All also provides instruction and outdoor activities including cycling, hiking, in-line skating, river rafting, canoeing and kayaking, day camps, water skiing, rock-climbing, camping and Custom Events. Outdoors for All is a customer driven organization where each year more than 2,000 children and adults with disabilities exercise their abilities thanks to the training and support of more than 600 volunteers.
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis interrupts the flow of information from the brain to the body and stops people from moving. Every hour in the United States, someone is newly diagnosed with MS, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with more than twice as many women as men contracting the disease. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S., and 2.5 million worldwide.
About the Oregon Chapter, National Multiple Sclerosis Society
MS stops people from moving. We exist to make sure it doesn’t. Oregon and SW Washington have one of the highest incidence rates of MS in the country. The Oregon Chapter services more than 7,000 individuals with MS and their families. We help each person address the challenges of living with MS; fund more MS research, provide more services to people with MS, offer more professional education and further more advocacy efforts than any other MS organization in the world. The Oregon Chapter has been dedicated to achieving a world free of MS since 1963. We are people who want to do something about MS now. Join the movement at www.defeatms.com.
The article does not mention Austin, who also rode with me (I needed two co-riders to keep up with me), but is awesome in that it focuses on Marianne's innovation and her friendship. Those two things are what made this such an amazing thing, not my MS... This story is about how people's friendship and love for each other can over come obsticles, and not about disease.
Marianne is my effing hero!