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Riding for Dad

WAS_2015_Storybank-article-BikeMSOne of our favorite memories of our dad was when we ran together in our neighborhood’s one-mile Fourth of July race. Our picture made the newspaper: Dana Nelson running with his daughters, Stephanie, 5, and Heather, 7.

Our dad wasn’t just active as we were growing up, he was involved. He didn’t just teach us to swim, he refereed our swim meets. He built sets for the high school musicals and chaperoned field trips.

When he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 18 years ago, we didn’t know what to expect. At first, we noticed only small changes. He walked with a cane. Sometimes he didn’t realize it when his shoe fell off. But he stayed as active and positive as before.

Eventually, the changes became more noticeable. As his mobility declined, he transitioned from using the cane to a walker, then to an electric scooter and finally, to a power chair.

It’s hard not to take our own abilities for granted. We cook dinner, walk the dog and check our email without thinking twice. When our dad would give almost anything just to hug his grandchildren or hold a cup of coffee, it seemed ungrateful to not use our abilities to the fullest.

So we decided to challenge ourselves by signing up for Bike MS: Ride Virginia. We weren’t cyclists. We couldn’t imagine riding 25 miles, much less 150. But for us, it was about doing something in our father’s honor. Other riders were more experienced, but we made up for it with motivation.

Two days on our bikes also gave us time to think about how MS has changed our parents’ lives and ours. They may not have been out there pedaling, but they were with us in spirit. We couldn’t have been prouder to see them cheering for us at the finish line.

Although it may be too late for a cure for our own dad, we hope there’s a cure in time for other dads with MS to walk their daughters down the aisle and play with their grandchildren.

Visit bikeMS.org today