I talk a lot about my teammate Gordy Myre on my facebook updates and in this blog. I admire Gordy for many reasons, and am proud to ride with him in Bike MS this year. Gordy is riding with us, but he's also riding with MS - on a tricycle that he cranks with his arms. Gordy is an inspiring man, and to many, he is the "face" of Bike MS here in Idaho and throughout the entire chapter. Gordy was kind enough to share his MS story with me, here it is...
|From left to right: Gordy, Me, Megan, and Doug at the Wiseguy Pizza Fundraiser|
"I was diagnosed with MS 24 years ago. I began working in the plumbing and heating wholesale business in 1979, after serving 4 years in the Air Force. Ten years later, in 1989, I was diagnosed with MS. I continued working another 15 years until my symptoms started affecting my job. It became difficult moving water heaters and air conditioners around, when it was all I could do to just maintain my own balance. So in 2004 I retired.
Prior to having MS, I competed in marathons, triathlons, and 100-mile bike rides, and also played on both fastpitch and slowpitch softball teams. While helping my daughter and niece with their animals at the fair one year, my ex-wife and sister-in-law noticed that I was tripping and falling quite often, and my speech was very slurred. I was also playing short-stop in a weekend softball tournament, when I picked up the ball and tried to throw it towards 1st base. My hand released and the ball went toward home plate instead. My ex-wife, being in the medical field, knew what these symptoms meant. Little did I know then that heat and overexertion could make the symptoms of MS worse.
So my ex-wife asked me to go see a neurologist. After an MRI and several other tests, he told me that I had MS. When I asked him what he could give me for it, he said there was nothing available at that time. Seven years later, when the first medication came out to slow the progression of the disease, he had me start it. This was a self-injectable medication that you had to give yourself, a shot once a week. This was an intermuscular shot with a 1 1/4 inch long needle. Good thing I knew lots of nurses because it was no fun to do myself.
Now there are several different medications on the market to slow the progression of MS, but none that will stop or repair it yet. (Note from Rex - I believe a new drug that just hit the market, Tecfidera, has promise to repair some damage for some forms of MS - this drug made possible by the type of research funded by the money we raise for Bike MS) These range from injections to chemo, to now an oral drug. I have tried most of them, but my MS has advanced enough that only the oral one has been proven to help.
I got remarried 4 years ago to a wonderful lady that I met on the internet. We have a 16 year old daughter, and I also have a 30 year old daughter and a 8 year old granddaughter who live in California. I volunteer every day of the week at 2 different elementary schools in the 1st through 5th grades. I began helping in 2004 when I retired from work. I have been helping the same teachers in Kuna since then. While helping the kids in 2nd grade several years ago, they nominated me to be KTVB’s Seven’s Hero, of which I was selected. The kids told me that all of the time and help that I gave them made me a real hero.
After riding in the MS bike ride this July, for the 6th year now, I received the honor of Seven’s Hero again, for my ability to ride 50 miles on a hand cycle. I use only my arms to pedal it, and it is another way I use to raise funds to find a cure for MS. I also participate in the MS Walk each year. I personally raised $5,002 for the event and my team raised over $6,400.
|Gordy on his bike|
I would like to call out a few things from Gordy's story that I find interesting.
- Gordy mentions several things that are made possible in part by the funds we raise in Bike MS: research and new medications, support groups, and financial assistance for wellness - including special equipment such as Gordy's bike
- Gordy does as much or more to help himself and others than anyone I know. Gordy is always a top fundraiser in MS Society events, and volunteers for the MS Society in addition to his work in the Kuna schools
- Gordy rides his bike 50 MILES in Bike MS. Before I started training for Bike MS, I'm not sure I ever rode that far in a weekend. What a stud.
So, thanks Gordy, for your inspiration and all that you do! See you out on the road, buddy!
To learn a bit more about Gordy, check out this KBOI "Family Matters" story on Gordy from April, 2013