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“To see the power of love, respect, inspiration, drive, and altruism at its best.” – Team Rehab United
‘The ride means the world to me, and honestly it’s my one time of year where I can basically say in your face MS…” Al DeRitis
Bruce “Slowride” Reid
In 2014 Bruce “Slowride” Reid of Ponte Vedra Beach, FL completed his 50th Bike MS—tackling all 50 states along the way (all but two rides on the same bike!). Averaging a minimum of 150 miles per ride, Bruce cycled more than 7,500 miles and, with his team, The Big Bananas, raised more than $250,000.
Bruce became involved with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in 2000, when a colleague invited him to participate in the North Florida Bike MS: PGA Tour Cycle to the Shore.
It wasn’t until after Bike MS that Bruce realized the impact of his participation in the ride, when two co-workers thanked him for riding "for them." Bruce didn’t know they had MS. “All of a sudden,” he said, “it became personal.”
After completing his first ride, Bruce says, “I was hooked—I wanted to continue working with an organization fighting a disease in which a cure could be found in my lifetime. And that’s going to happen.”
Bruce never loses sight of his reason for traveling to all 50 states. “The people living with MS, handing out cycling medals at the finish line are an inspiration to me,” he says. “Some, when they have learned of my 50-state Bike MS challenge, have called me hero. I tell them they've got it backwards.”
In addition to Bike MS, Bruce and Linda’s involvement with the Society also includes: chairing an MS Awareness Week auction, volunteering for MS Service Day, and participating in Walk MS and MuckFest MS. Bruce has also been a member of the board of trustees in North Florida since 2007, and Linda raises thousands of dollars for the Society by selling homemade baked goods through her website, DessertsForDonations.com.
“There's not a day that goes by that we are not thinking of creative ways to fundraise,” says Bruce.
‘The ride means the world to me, and honestly it’s my one time of year where I can basically say in your face MS…I’m driving through a town in middle nowhere New Jersey, and someone’s on a beach chair with a sign that says ‘thank you for riding.’ And that gratitude is really all that motivates me, until I get to the finish line, and then I see my wife Renee's face, who has MS, and that sort of seals the deal for me..riding skills wise, I’m horrendous, give me a push on the road if you see me.” - Al DeRitis
Motivated by his wife Renee, who was diagnosed with MS in 2005, Al DeRitis has ranked as the top fundraiser two year’s running at the Bike MS: City to Shore Ride. Raising $41,125 to claim the top spot in 2012, Al broke new records in 2013 raising $62,710 to again rank as #1. He spends the entire year building up a contact list on his iPhone, in a daily mode to gather names, emails, business cards, etc., and then sends them all his fundraising email. He diligently follows up, sends thank you messages and capitalizes on his company’s matching gift contribution. As Al states in this video ‘One on One with #1,’ Renee’s Riders, a team of 19, “we’re not be the best bicyclists, but we’re tenacious fundraisers. So our team philosophy is honestly, ‘Fundraising first, Bicycling second.’”
At 27, my career was really starting to take off. I was traveling the world working for an oil company. I had great friends around me with lots of laughs and lots of memories. It was a good life. Then in the middle of the year, I was diagnosed with MS. I thought my life as I knew it would come to a halt. But the opposite happened to me. I grew as a person. I got stronger mentally and physically. I made the decision to not let MS hold back any of my dreams. My good life became a great life. Once I was able to learn that having MS would not change my life completely, I got involved with the National MS Society. I made the first step to participate in Walk MS Houston and I also began volunteering for the BP MS 150 and am now a team captain for my company. Later, I asked to become part of the Houston Walk MS Committee. I’ve captained my own team, the Wizards of Az for the past two years. The Wizards are a group of the best support system anyone could ask for. We walk and ride for a purpose - for a cure. Join me and the Wizards in 2016!
One of the ways I raise money is to organize a raffle one chance to win for every $25 donated. I’m good at making clothes, so my prize last year was a garment custom made for the winner. This year there will be three custom garment prizes. Everyone has a product of skill worthy of raffling off: a pie a month, ad space, dinner for 6, a day of gardening, Giants tickets, a winetasting, a weekend at your beach house, that extra iPad, a dog walking or whatever else you can offer besides riding your bike on an amazing ride through stunning countryside. Let me know what you put up I’ll contribute for a ticket!
Mike Rathsack is the2013 top fundraiser for the Bike MS: Venture the Valley. He has participated in 27 of the 33 Ohio Valley Chapter Bike MS events, and has raised an accumulated $236,619. Mr. Rathsack is on pace to reach the quarter-of-a-million dollar mark in 2014.
PowerBar, a recent inductee to the National MS Society Circle of Distinction, sponsors Mr. Rathsack’s Bike MS team. Members of the Circle of Distinction demonstrate their commitment to the National MS Society’s mission through their extraordinary financial leadership and generosity. PowerBar has given more than $1 million to bring us closer to a world free of multiple sclerosis.
Mr. Rathsack rides for his mother, and other family members living with MS. His wife, Debbie, has also participated for 15 years as a Bike MS rest stop volunteer.
A fun fundraising event I did last summer was have all of my sons’ friends over for a swim party and BBQ. I charged each parent $25 and they dropped their kids off for 3 hours of lunch and swimming. It was an easy way to fundraise and the kids had a blast. With my company matching I was able to double what I raised that day.
I also leave a candy jar at my desk and sell candy for 2 pieces fo $1. I paid $16 for a bag of candy and made $150. Again, with my company matching, I turned that into $300.
Bryan Hill - Team Rehab United
Team Rehab United had our heart strings tugged about 8 years ago when having dinner with some friends discussing how we as a company could get more involved and make a difference in the lives of some of our patients that had MS. We knew we loved riding bikes and that we could get behind a cause that had us pedaling for the right reasons. Our team grew from 6 to 40 + and our fundraising dollars have been over $200,000 to date.
The ride has not only allowed us to do the basic company fundraising for a cause and team building amongst our staff. It is a chance for the owners to really get to know the hearts and spirits of staff. To see the power of what love, respect, inspiration, drive, and altruism at its best. We have been so involved that Rehab United wanted to give more, therefore we became the official Walk MS, MS Rockstars, and Bike MS coaching/training/fitness provider for all events. We want to reach as many people as we can and let them know how important this cause is.
Finally, in our 8 years of riding, walking, and running we have learned a universal thing. Most people diagnosed with MS wait a long time before they tell anyone other than family that they have MS. We found that this is a must CHANGE initiative. We need more people riding, walking, running to let all of the MS community know we are here to make a difference, that they are so important in this fight, and that we are your team members, friends, family, and we will go to battle with you and for you.
I rode my first Bike MS Bay to Bay Tour in 2007. My company, Intuit, had a team in Walk MS, and someone in HR who knew me and knew I was a cyclist asked me to start an Intuit team for Bike MS. That first year we had 8 riders and rode in the rain. My only connection to MS was a coworker.
Within a year my brother was diagnosed with MS. The second year I sent out a company-wide recruiting email, I got back an email from a coworker I didn't know saying "I have MS; thank you for organizing a team and riding to find a cure." I was hooked, and have ridden every year since.
I ride, raise money, and lead Team Intuit every year in the Bike MS Bay to Bay tour because I am passionate about the cause, enjoy the coastal route (and the fantastic support given riders), and love forming and training a diverse corporate team. Eight years on, Team Intuit is up to 45 riders from all divisions of the company and at every skill level of cycling. After training and fundraising all summer, the two day ride is a rolling celebration of our efforts to create a world free of MS.