By Mark Ackerman
DENVER (CBS4) – For the past decade, a group of friends and family members known as Patty’s Pack has been a fixture at Bike MS, the annual cycling fundraiser that benefits the National MS Society.
Members of Patty’s Pack ride to honor Patty Metzler, a mother of five from Colorado’s Eastern Plains who courageously fought multiple sclerosis for 27 years. At just 28 years old, Patty was diagnosed with MS.
“She went from a cane to a walker to a wheelchair in just six months,” recalled her daughter Hannah, who said despite the diagnosis Patty was always there to listen to other peoples’ problems and lend her advice.
After Patty passed away in 2007, Hannah received a mailer about Bike MS. She decided to take part in memory of her mother and sent a fundraising email to her family members.
Her uncle, Ed Blach, remembers receiving the email and saying to his wife “Maybe we should join her.”
He wrote back: “Hannah, we’ll support you. But maybe you need some company?”
According to Ed, “Hannah wrote back and said, ‘I didn’t know people your age new how to ride a bike?’ So the gauntlet was set.”
Hannah recalls the exchange a little differently, “I said absolutely, and Patty’s Pack was born.”
But Hannah was right, Blach and his wife didn’t even own bikes.
“That first year was tough. We went out and bought bikes, rode for a week and then rode the 150 miles,” Blach said.
Another uncle, who hadn’t been on a bicycle for 35 years, showed up at the starting line with an old cruiser bike, ready to ride.
“We had bikes with knobby tires, we weren’t well equipped. We didn’t know the world of cycling,” but Blach said they just kept pedaling.
“It was quite an adventure the first year, we suffered greatly, but we didn’t suffer as much as Patty had over all those years.”
Every year since, the team has grown, now consisting of 50 or 60 people.
“We want to find a cure, that’s why we do it,” Blach said.
In the quiet moments on the ride, Hannah thinks of her mother.
“I think about the woman she was and what she went through,” she said. “Her strength and her ability to raise the five of us, to be a wife and a mother.”
Blach says at times the ride gets emotional.
“I know it’s a tough weekend for Hannah. She always says ‘I get to spend the weekend with my mother.’ I get to spend the weekend with my sister,” he said.
“It’s because of her all those people come together,” said Hannah. “To do this in her memory and to help people who are still struggling. Dying at 55, I want to eradicate that.”
Bike MS takes place the weekend of June 25 & 26. The CBS4-sponsored event starts at Front Range Community College. For more information and to learn about a special registration discount, visit the Bike MS page on CBSDenver.com.