DENVER (CBS4) – Thousands of cyclists are getting ready for the 167-mile, two-day trek to Fort Collins and back. The event is Bike MS, and it’s the largest fundraiser for multiple sclerosis in Colorado. It raises nearly $4 million dollars.
“Every dollar that is raised is absolutely essential to advancing progress,” said Heather Lee, Associate Vice President for Individual Giving at the Colorado chapter of the National MS Society. “We are on the cusp of significant, significant discoveries, that are just going to change the course of what it means to live with MS, completely.”
Lee is hopeful for the future. She describes living with multiple sclerosis like being on a roller coaster, with many ups-and-downs. She was diagnosed four-years-ago.
“It’s a challenge that life has presented to me, but it’s making me a better person,” Lee told CBS4.
She relies on exercise and MS drugs to help keep the disease in check. So far her major symptoms have been numbness, tingling, and some burning pain.
“What I find from continuing to exercise and trying to be mindful when I can around just my mental health is it allows me the space to relieve some of the anxiety,” Lee explained.
She wasn’t completely unfamiliar with the disease. Her father got it when he was in his 30’s, but kept the diagnosis from her.
“That was the way my family was, we didn’t really talk about disease,” Lee said.
A decade down the road, her mother was also diagnosed with it. A shocking turn for a disease that’s not considered to be hereditary.
“It usually doesn’t hit people on this extreme a level,” Lee said.
Now she and her husband worry about their little girl and the baby that Lee is carrying. Researchers believe that some people are at greater genetic risk for multiple sclerosis, but the disease is triggered by some environmental factors.
“She has a greater risk for the disease,” Lee explained.
While there is a possibility that her children will be susceptible to the disease, Lee believes the future holds a time when multiple sclerosis is no longer a concern.
“I strongly believe that the disease will not impact her personally in that way. I think we will prevent it from ever hitting her generation,” Lee said.
Bike MS is Saturday, June 24th and Sunday, June 25th. The ride starts at Front Range Community College in Westminster, goes to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, and then back again on Sunday. There are several routes of various lengths and difficulty.