Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Never Stop...Never Quit... motivational t-shirt

Show everyone that you will Never Stop…Never Quit…


Never Stop…Never Quit…
This is the theme and motivational mantra for Brie and Kevin in their fight against Multiple Sclerosis; a lesson first learned more than 21 years ago that still reigns true today: Read the story here

Read more and support our fight: neverstopneverquit.com

Order your shirts today for this first-run.
$25 each.  All proceeds go towards our fight against MS.

This is a limited edition release.  Local order and delivery only.  Orders will be ready the week of June 16th.
Send us an email (KevJByrne@gmail.com) or order in person.  We’ll meet up with you here in Portland.  Meeting location of choice is, of course, at Journeys (7771 SW Capitol Highway, In the heart of Multnomah Village)!

T-Shirts are G200/G200L Gildan, 100% Preshrunk Cotton in Sport Grey

Current sizes available
Unisex t-shirts

  • X-Large
  • Large
  • Medium

Women’s shirts

  • X-Large
  • Large
  • Medium
  • Small


Coming soon
Internet orders and nationwide shipping
Custom sizes
Non-beer branded atrwork

Monday, June 9, 2014

I didn’t know how to be disabled

There’s a unique sense of pride when you encounter someone with whom you share a bond.  It’s like that subtle gesture you give and receive as you ride past another motorcycle.  A relaxed wave, with your arm hanging down, that told the whole story:
 ‘sup
Nice bike!
Thanks!
Enjoy your ride, I’m enjoying mine!

Every bond has that special greeting, that acknowledgement to the other that you “get it” and share the same passion.  You compare your cars, sports, computers, or whatever other interests you may share.  Sometimes you ask questions to size up the competition or maybe just revel in the jealousy of others (or end up simmering in your own jealousy). 

There are other times when just a wave won’t do and you simply must tell stories.   I love to tell stories.  Whether it’s with other helicopter pilots or displaced New Yorkers, I rarely pass up an opportunity to tell stores. 

My MS world is no different.  I like to tell stories.  I like to talk about my challenges and overcoming the odds.  I always relate to the big victory.   The other day, my camaraderie was displayed while hobbling past a man close to my age.  The arm gripping his cane told the whole story:
‘sup
Nice cane!

It was a nicer model than my cane.  I involuntarily acknowledged him but quickly pulled back; it just felt uncomfortable.  Do you recognize or acknowledge someone else’s disability?  I don’t know.

The first 14 years of my fight with MS were relatively easy.  Either I didn't “look disabled” or, if I did at the time, l was sick or injured.  Sick or injured, at least to me, implies a temporary state.  I was sick, but I was in the hospital or on medications; I would get better.  I was injured, but my leg was in a temporary cast or I wore an eye patch for a while: I would get better.  I often separated myself from the “disabled” term and the focus (with stories and MS fundraising) was on overcoming the effects of my MS and paying everyone’s support forward.  In my 15th year of fighting the hardest thing for me to lose ended up being punctuation.  Without the comfort of hiding behind quotation marks, I am finally working on learning what it means to be disabled.

Last month I was featured on a local news channel’s health report (KPTV, Fox 12 Oregon).  It was an informative piece about the clinical trial I am participating in.  It’s for patients with Secondary Progressive MS.  I received nothing but accolades from everyone (friends, family, even strangers who recognized me!) but when I saw that video clip I didn't see any reason to be happy.  What I saw was a body that was breaking down.  Tell-tale signs of limping, slurring, and stumbling were not starting to become visible, they were on display.  My concern was that everyone was going to see the clip and think I’m like that all the time.

Over the course of the next few weeks, my condition worsened.  I could feel myself degrading daily; I could almost mark the changes from one day to the next.  Secondary Progressive MS is when the disease will begin to progress more steadily without any specific noted relapses.  No breaks, just continual decline.  “This is it” was my only logical conclusion as I witnessed that decline first hand.  There are a lot of things that go through your mind when you experience what you see as a pre-cursor to your own demise.  All of the facts you know about MS, and every example of the progression you have seen in the past, lead to the same grim outcome.  I was no different after all.  I was becoming part of the group with others who show their disabilities.

I finally stopped separating myself from the disabled term and started sharing my developing disabilities with others.  Only then did I finally understand my disease.  That was the point I started to listen to others, to realize their reactions to and interactions with me, and to see what everyone else around me has seen for quite some time.  My MS had not progressed or worsened in quite some time.  My symptoms have been this way for months, much longer in some cases.  The occasional comment of “you look like you are doing a lot better than the last time I saw you” was finally taken as a compliment, encouragement rather than pity.  There was no rapid degradation; all of those new symptoms were just a sudden onset of realization on my part. 

With my impressions reset, my health improved.  My energy level seemed to be restored, my workouts improved, and my mind was again at ease.  I no longer have to question myself as to what I’ll do if/when I become disabled, no more concerns about how I will handle that.  Apparently, I have been disabled for quite some time.  Go figure. 

I am disabled.  I’m more comfortable with that now.  This realization changes nothing externally, but my comfort level changes every image of where I am and understanding of what I need to do.  All my MS friends can translate this (comfort level = reduced stress = better days overall).

I’m still not quite sure what the proper greeting or protocol is when I pass another with whom I share this bond.  I suspect that time will help me understand the best thing to do.  Before I understood the subtle arm-hang when passing a fellow biker, I had to learn to ride.  Only then did I receive the greeting.  Eventually I learned to respond in-kind, later initiating the greeting and teaching the next generation of bikers the proper arm-hang.

There is a lot for me to learn and be comfortable with.  For now, I will have to stick with “nice cane!”

Kevin Byrne - Portland, OR


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Prologue


When I finally pen the story of Never Stop…Never Quit… detailing my fight with and victory over MS, this will be the prologue.  All of my actions since this day have been rooted in these moments.

Kevin Byrne - Portland, OR

**********

May, 1993.  West Point, New York.

It was a rare event: a lazy Saturday afternoon with nothing on the schedule.  I was a cadet at the United States Military Academy, preparing to graduate later that month as a member of the Class of 1993.  As I stepped out of the barracks area on that sunny spring day, I paused to admire the view that I had called home for the last four years.  Looking onto “The Plain,” a 12-acre parade field just past the statues of General Douglas MacArthur (Class of 1903) and Colonel Sylvanus Thayer (Class of 1808), I felt that familiar sense of awe realizing I would soon join The Long Grey Line of so many graduates preceding me.

Just off to the side of Thayer Monument was a sightseeing tour group, a common springtime site.  The Commandant of Cadets, Brigadier General Robert Foley (Class of 1963), was leading the group through a short history of the academy they were visiting.  At the time, General Foley was one of three Medal of Honor recipients still serving on active duty, having earned the award for inspiring leadership while commanding his company during a fierce battle near Quan Dau Tieng, Republic of Vietnam, in 1966.  He described the tenets of dedication and leadership that are instilled into young cadets from the very start and how that dedication consistently shines in generation after generation of military leaders coming out of West Point.  As part of this he shared several poignant examples of Americans in combat, relentless onslaughts of overwhelming enemy forces collapsing onto weary bands of brave soldiers led by graduates of our alma mater. 

“They will never stop. They will never quit.”  

He repeated that phrase over and over as he shared examples of the tactical, mental, and physical challenges many young graduates faced while leading soldiers in combat.

Needless to say, it was quite stirring. 

At times, “they will never stop…” referred unrelenting attacks of the enemy.  At other times, the young Army officers and soldiers they led earned that credit.  

Hearing this crystallized everything I had been taught over the past four years: the dedication and strength to continue the fight come from understanding your enemy’s intent.  If left on their course, the enemy would never stop and would never quit. If unrepelled, they would drive through and defeat you, moving to attack again and continue their assault on another.  It was the duty of leaders to understand the drive of their enemy and to face them. 
Their enemy would never stop, nor could they.  
Their enemy would never quit, nor could they.  
They must fight until that drive was defeated.

Fighting takes on countless forms.  Regardless of the uncertainty, leaders need to be prepared for whatever fight they may face.  General Foley told the group how cadets must always understand why they are here and what their training is preparing them for:
  • Leading soldiers, keeping them safe, multiplying the power of our forces.
  • Always training, always preparing.  Ensuring both soldiers and leaders are ready for the next fight.
  • Caring for their soldiers and themselves: physically, mentally, and morally.  These are the most valuable needs in every fight.
A few weeks later, I was one of 1,003 cadets who graduated.  On that spring afternoon I felt as if General Foley was telling these stories in order to personally charge me to never stop and to never quit.

I never forgot his lesson.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Team Amulet, powered by Ninkasi

2014 BikeMS - Oregon Willamette Valley

Welcome and Thank You to the our new title sponsor for Team Amulet