August 19, 2011 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
"Many Kinds of Love"
A few weekends ago my wife and I celebrated our thirty-fourth wedding anniversary in a very unique way. We rode our bikes for two full days in the “2011 MS 150 Best Dam Bike Ride” to help raise money for the necessary research to end Multiple Sclerosis. We were honored to ride on the team of our next door neighbor whose mother has MS, and who worked tirelessly to raise thousands of dollars for this event. She and her mother were an inspiration to all of us on the team, both before and throughout the ride.
This two day event, with the combined efforts of 2000 riders and volunteers, raised over $1,500,00 dollars for the MS Society of Wisconsin. That's right....1.5 million dollars. MS Rides like this one are held throughout the United States and do so much to raise money and to raise hope for people battling MS. While no cure has been discovered yet for MS, there are now eight FDA approved drugs to help modify the disease course, treat exacerbations, manage symptoms and improve safety and function. Twenty-eight years ago when the first MS 150 Best Dam Bike Ride was held in Wisconsin there were no approved medications to help with the symptoms of MS.
This ride took place over two days, Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday we rode from Milwaukee to Whitewater and stayed in the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater dorms. This was the actual night of our wedding anniversary and you can't get much more romantic than twin beds in a dorm room--with the temperature in our room being about 95 degrees! On Sunday we arose early and biked on to Madison.
Saturday evening in Whitewater there was a wonderful program where we all gathered to hear speakers share stories about how MS has effected their lives or the lives of someone they love. At one point everyone there who had MS was invited to come up on the stage. It took some of the people a long time to get there, but when they all were on the stage they received a long and loud standing ovation. I don't think there was a dry eye in the place. Several men shared with all of us that they ride this event every year for their wives who have MS and they declared that their riding each year is a “love letter” to their wives. This message about the true meaning of love was not lost on us as we were celebrating our anniversary. Love, in marriage, family and in friendship, take many forms and is expressed in many different ways.
As we rode this event, we spoke with many people who shared with us that they were riding out of their love for their spouse, their brother and/or sister, their mother and/or their father, and their friend from church or from work. It was a reminder for us that love takes many forms and that one of the most inspiring expressions of love is when we are willing to serve the greater good of another. True love does not focus on what it can get, but on what it can give. Silly me--I thought I was the one giving on this ride, but it turned out we were the ones that received so much.
When we crossed the finish line in Madison, I experienced something that was truly moving. Just past the finish line, there was a group of individuals with MS sitting in a row of chairs. They were there to sign each of the riders' numbers. They each signed the number on our backs and wrote a message of thanks, but it was each of them that I wanted to thank. They are the true heroes of this event, and I thank them for reminding me of the resiliency and strength of the human spirit.
If you would like to watch a short video that captures some of the spirit of this event, including parts of the inspiring program from Saturday night, check out this video posted by a couple who rode in this year's event. You can find it at: http://www.youtube.com/watchfeature=player_embedded&v=3sSNfooTTp4 You might even want to think about riding next year, August 4 & 5, 2012. Trust me, you will receive more than you give.
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