Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bike MS 2015 - Hit the Lights!

Our tagline captures almost every reason why I ride, write and fight:
Never Stop…Never Quit…

It’s direct.   It’s simple.  It’s the quick quip used to simplify our mantra:
It will never stop…nor will we
It will never quit…nor will we
This is why we ride!

Even in that testament, however, we leave out one ever-present caveat: until.  The fact is this fight won’t be over until a cure for multiple sclerosis is found.  When that day finally comes, we’ll happily move on to focus our passions and support elsewhere.  Until that day comes, that day when until arrives, one word will stand out above all others: NEVER. 

Every day, we face the threat of never.  I struggle with my own worries that I will never again realize the function I’ve lost in my hands, arms, legs and throughout my body.  Others fear that they will never again see the man once they knew as daddy, husband or friend.  We all face a future where I will never be as strong as I was yesterday, waking every succeeding day only to face a repeating pattern of decline. 

But never is also a saving grace, giving me the courage I need to face this threat day after day.  I will never accept my fears, just as my family and friends refuse to succumb to their own, even as they are bearing down on all of us.  Instead, we will always fight…until the day comes when we don’t have to anymore. 

Never is the thought that guides me as we kick off Bike MS 2015.  That single word describes the reason why, for at least one more year, I will dust off “all things Bike MS” to kick off our biggest fight to-date.

With less than 5 weeks remaining until we ride, Team Amulet is sure to be ready for 2015.   Team building and training have been underway for some time; 40 riders strong today and still growing!  Bike MS fundraising events and excitement are also rolling out all over Portland.  There will always be a bit left to prepare, but, as a team, we’re ready. 

Personally, the fight goes on.

I think my body is strong enough to ride on August 1st, but how far I will be able to push remains to be seen.  Every single day changes that outlook.  As I face my fear of never, my preparation embraces the same word.  Never is the reason I continue to push.

My first effort is always the health of my body, as it fights existing damage and faces threats of danger from my MS.  A regimen of medication and supplements compliment my current clinical trial, diet and rest cycle.  I have an army of champions in this corner as well.  An amazing team of doctors, from both Providence Health & Services and the VA Healthcare System, work together to monitor and treat my disease with the best options available today.  Brie is my supporter on a healthy diet, ensuring I remain active in our family and always keeping my schedule sane.  Eleanor is my all-around hand, everywhere in every way, even portioning out my daily regimen into the AM/PM pill dividers for me with her nimble fingers while helping ensure everything is ready, clean and safely stored!

Next, I focus on the strength in my body.  A routine mix of strong workouts 4-6 times a week in the gym, plus our active family life, helps my physical preparation.  In these final few weeks I will take the opportunity to put in some extra work on my legs, ensuring that I can ride the shorter bike route while testing to see if my body can push just a little bit further.

Finally, as we step into this season, the time has come for my spirit to carry me.  Fear and worry must take a backseat for a while, replaced by motivation and energy.  That is where I stand today, braced by the raw motivation and energy I continue to build.  This emotional level is where I’ll stay throughout Bike MS 2015, though many of my friends would describe this as the “typical-KB behavior” they have come to know. 

I look forward to embracing the entire MS community, all of my friends who fight alongside me, through my words and voice.  I’ll welcome new friends, so that we can motivate each other as we fight for the same goal.  I’ll reach out for donations and support as far as my words and voice will carry.  All the while, I will honor and give back to my community by doing exactly what they expect from me: I will never, never stop fighting, until the day comes when I don’t have to anymore.

My focus this year is to exploit that raw energy and motivation fueling my emotions.  The stories I share will echo that sentiment.  Every story will have a theme inspired by the raw energy in my Bike MS 2015 road music.  Every story will bring us one step closer to until.

I am honored to have another chance to fight.  Hit the lights!

It will never stop…nor will we
It will never quit…nor will we
This is why we fight!

Kevin Byrne - Portland, OR

* Inspiration: Metallica, “Hit The Lights”, Megaforce Records, 1983

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