Friday, August 26, 2011

Fighting Multiple Sclerosis: 2011 MS Bike Ride

Our latest video installment from our Motion Without Limits video coverage! Meet cyclist Chris Crawford who has been riding in the Oregon Chapter MS Bike Ride fundraiser for the last eleven years in support of his sister Bonnie and her fight against Multiple Sclerosis.

Bishop-Wisecarver is proud to have sponsored this year's bike ride in demonstration of "Motion Without Limits" as part of our commitment to corporate giving. We followed their journey with cameras in an effort to spread their powerful message about MS. Enjoy this heartwarming story of a brother and sister raising money to help fund cutting edge research that will one day discover a cure for MS.

Click here to view the video if it does not show below >

You can view interviews with Chris Crawford here on our YouTube channel >

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Q&A with Ali Jabbari, Vice President of Engineering

Get to Know Bishop-Wisecarver’s Vice President of Engineering, Ali Jabbari!

Ali joined our company just recently [ view press release ] and holds an undergraduate degree from Northeastern University and graduate degrees from University of California, Berkeley. Ali can be reached via e-mail at

Question: Why did you want to be an engineer?

Answer: I was always interested in taking things apart and trying to figure out how they worked. Engineering seemed to be a natural choice for someone who was curious to learn about man-made devices; how they worked, how they were put together, and the thought process that went into their design.

Question: Who was your biggest influence in becoming an engineer?

Answer: I am not sure if there was a single individual that was the biggest influence on me. I had a few teachers along the way that mentored me and encouraged me to continue with my education. The most noteworthy of these was my PhD advisor, Prof. Tomizuka at UC Berkeley. There are a couple historic figures who have also been inspirational for me; Da Vinci and his creativity, along with Edison and his indefatigable determination, come to mind.  

Question: Where did you go for schooling?

Answer: I received my undergraduate degree from Northeastern University, and my PhD from UC Berkeley in Mechanical Engineering. My area of specialty was Dynamic Systems and Control.

Question: What kind of job experience did you have before joining the Bishop-Wisecarver team?

Answer: I started as a research engineer, and as my career progressed, I transitioned into jobs with a focus on practical engineering. I have worked on next generation Lithography machines at Nikon Research Corporation, and more recently on electromagnetic transducers at Tymphany Corporation.

Question: What is your area of expertise?

Answer: Motion control, automation, and dynamic systems.

Question: What do you enjoy most about being an engineer?

Answer:  Designing, building, and analyzing electromechanical systems. Also, having the opportunity to be creative and analytical. 

Question: What's the most rewarding thing about being an engineer?

Answer: Seeing your designs come to life, and performing as they were intended to do.

Question: What is the toughest project you have worked on?

Answer: An E-beam lithography machine for Nikon. This was a joint project between Nikon and IBM, and I was in charge of developing the control architecture and algorithms for the system. 

Question: Any advice to aspiring engineers?

Answer: Don’t see failure as your enemy, it is your friend. It is a cliché, but as an engineer you learn much more by incrementally testing your designs, and using the feedback from your test results to converge on a robust and elegant design.

Question: What do you like to do outside of work?

Answer: I like to keep active, and I do this by running 25 miles a week, and using my bicycle as a preferred mode of transportation. I make it a priority to travel and learn from other cultures; for me, it is the closest thing to being a child again (you don’t know the language, everything is new, and you do not have any established routines). I enjoy restoring old mechanical watches. I have always been fascinated by time and the ingenious devices we have built to quantify it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stop Motion Animation Tightens Up with Intelligent Linear Rig

Production of the Glendogie Bogey stop motion animation was a smooth operation thanks to a clever design based on a HepcoMotion® linear actuation system. This film project, funded by BBC Scotland, was the sequel to the BAFTA-nominated production called Haunted Hogmanay. The story is about two friends that go in search of a fearsome monster called the Glendogie Bogey who lurks in caves under a golf course. Actors Rachel Stevens and Peter Capaldi provide two of the voices.

The film was the brain child of the Edinburgh based, Ko Lik Films, a company that specializes  in stop frame animation. This method involves clay models being moved, frame by frame, to create a sequence of fluid movement -- a time consuming task that can require as many as 25 camera shots to complete one second of film.

The production company was originally using a rig with a camera mounted on a hand wound helical screw, allowing the camera to be moved along the scene set. However, the process was neither accurate nor flexible, and resulted in increased production hours and compromised cost-efficiency. The company therefore sought the help of engineering designer and model maker, David Campbell and his colleague Michael Gormley.

“We explored proprietary motion systems for Ko Lik but they were too costly and over-specified for its needs,” said Gormley. “So we set about designing a system ourselves. And although what we came up with was a fairly straight forward two-axis system carrying a small load, there were several factors that made it a nifty bit of kit.”

The linear motion solution designed for the project was comprised of two PDU (profile driven units) by HepcoMotion with a SmartDrive stepper motor and controller. Designed to straddle the set it was a fairly long-winded development. “We had to translate exacting production needs into design engineering and both HepcoMotion and its motion control partner SmartDrive contributed a great deal in this regard,” added Gormley.

The rigidity that the HepcoMotion profile driven units provided was a crucial factor in the design. As the system is cantilevered, the vertical axis had to provide solid support for the motorized X-axis onto which the camera is mounted. Michael and David also had to contend with an element of bounce within the system but the rigidity of the beams and use of the motor to counterbalance the camera and camera head at extremes of travel ensures that this effect does not compromise the camera’s positioning accuracy.

The ability to move the camera a set distance to within .1mm accuracy, and most importantly provide a datum, was key to the rigs success from a production cost standpoint. When a sequence has been shot, the content is reviewed for quality, and if part of the scene needs to be re-taken, it is now easier for the production team to re-shoot because the exact camera position is now known.

The SmartDrive controller also provided other highly valuable automation features. Knowing what distances to move the camera to achieve the required visual effect is a complex task. Before using this linear motion design, a combination of mathematical calculation and intelligent guesswork on the part of the production team was needed.

“On the new system we have fed these algorithms into the controller so it has executable routines that the camera operators can just run,” explained Gormley. “It’s completely transparent to them.”

Gormley praised both HepcoMotion and SmartDrive for their ongoing advice on this project.

“In the greater scheme of things this was a fairly small job but both companies were only too pleased to give us the benefit of their knowledge.”

Learn more about profile driven units by HepcoMotion exclusively offered by Bishop-Wisecarver on our website:

To view the original article posting, click here!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Jigsaw Puzzle to Get You In Motion

Let's get that brain of yours in motion this week with a jigsaw of DualVee guide wheels -- one of our latest images! You've got 60 pieces in honor of our 60 years of service, but I bet it won't take that long to figure it out. How fast can you solve the puzzle? 

HINT: Some pieces need to be rotated. After you mouse click the puzzle piece, use the keyboard arrow keys to rotate.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2011 Bike MS Fundraiser - Oregon Chapter

Bike MS Riders Chris and BonnieSTOP MSThe Bike CorralCongratulations!Go Team SlugfishNeed Air
Over the Bridge We go!Preparing For the RideBrothers and SistersYou Can Do ItHe's Almost HereNo Time to Stop
MS Quilt of Years PastSharing StoriesLet's Do This!Stop for a BreakBonnie Waves on RidersHere They Come!
Zoom!Bonnie and BarbaraGoing for #1Rest Stop #2 and #4Time For a BreakThe Favorite Sister
2011 Bike MS - Oregon, a set on Flickr.
Check out our Flickr gallery of the 2011 Bike MS event for the Oregon chapter held this last weekend in Portland. As a corporate sponsor of cyclist Chris Crawford and his sister Bonnie, we were invited to follow along with our cameras. This is their story in photographs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Fight Against MS: Motion Without Limits

Check out our sponsored Bike MS rider's letter from the 2011 event this past weekend, August 6th and 7th. As one of his corporate sponsors, we followed his journey with our cameras and will be posting a video very soon! You can check out photographs from the big weekend on our Flickr page. We hope you enjoy his inspirational letter! We are honored he and his sister have shared their personal experience with us.

1, 2, 3, GO! by Chris Crawford
The 2011 MS Bike Ride

"This year’s MS bike ride was a big year for us.  This is our 12th year riding and raising money, and this year Bonnie and I will crest $250,000 in total fundraising!  That is amazing to us.  It represents so much support from so many people.  Thank you for being there for us.

Bonnie’s disease is progressing.  There is no doubt of that.  She had been on the rebound since before last year’s ride as she successfully recovered from a knee replacement surgery that apparently was not needed.  Doctor’s error, they say.  But Bonnie decided to move past that, to her credit, and work like crazy to get back in shape.  Bonnie was committed to riding in this year’s ride, despite the progression of her disease.  Then, three weeks before the ride, disaster.  Bonnie was involved in a car accident where her vehicle was totaled and she had to be extracted from the vehicle with the Jaws of Life.

Her injuries were, miraculously, minor.  However, with her existing MS being what it is, the banging and bruising took away whatever chance we thought we had of riding this year.  That was a total bummer for us because Bonnie had been unable to ride in 2009 and 2010, after riding with me on the tandem bike in 2007 and 2008.  Each year is harder and harder but Bonnie made the commitment to ride this year in celebration of us crossing the $250K threshold.

The ride was not to be.  But… there is more to this story. 

Bonnie started rehab about a week ago and after a few sessions, the therapist told her that he would not tell her she couldn’t ride, that it was up to her.  Well, that put things in motion.  With the help of the Oregon MS Society and its president, Lisa Roth, we got a tandem bike to use (literally at the last hour).  Then “Team Bonnie” mobilized in full force.  Team Bonnie also included four additional family members, two vehicles and ten hands all working feverishly at the same time, or so it seemed.  We knew Bonnie couldn’t ride the bike far and we knew it would be extremely painful and challenging.  And, we knew it would actually be dangerous.  Bonnie cannot get on or off the bike without assistance.  She cannot put her feet on the pedals without someone picking up her leg and putting her foot down on the pedal.  Often her foot would slide off or move and have to be adjusted.  The only way to adjust it is to stop the bike, hold it unsteadily and have someone move her foot for her.  Then, when the bike is in motion, there are a few seconds of extreme wobbling that take your breath away.  The worst thing in the world would be for Bonnie to fall.  And no matter how you cut it, when Bonnie is on the back of a tandem, the risk of falling is high.  But there is something awe-inspiring about Bonnie crossing that finish line.  We took the risk.  We had to succeed.  We could not fall.

We knew Bonnie couldn’t ride far, so we decided to rendezvous at the 60-mile mark of the 65-mile route.  I decided after two years of doing the “Century” I’d go the shorter distance to be stronger for these last 5 miles.  And it was a good thing I did.  We met at the 60-mile mark along with Lisa from the MS Society, and this year’s special guest Elizabeth Allen (who works at Bishop-Wisecarver, one of my corporate sponsors).  Elizabeth was filming the event so her company can help promote the cause.  Very cool! So, we met at the 60-mile mark and started trying to figure out how to get Bonnie on the bike.  Team Crawford went into action!

My 18-year-old nephew Ryan and our brother Tony helped Bonnie put her feet on the rest-bar that Bonnie’s husband Trini had welded to a bracket for a tandem.  That way, Bonnie didn’t have to pedal.  Then, my 12-year-old daughter Sarah and our sister Barbara helped keep Bonnie stable as I held up the bike.  After ten hands moving frantically to make sure Bonnie was up on the bike, off we went.  Immediately the wind brought a smile to Bonnie’s face.  There is something magical about gliding on a bike that cannot be fully appreciated until you can’t do it anymore.  Bonnie was back!  But then, another problem struck.

Only one mile in, with four miles to go, we encountered a hill that was just too long for me to pull us up.  Tandem bikes are super heavy, especially with Bonnie on the back not pedaling.  But, Team Bonnie was prepared.  We scrambled to help Bonnie off the bike and nephew Ryan jumped on.  With fresh 18-year-old legs, we powered up the hill, pulled over and got Bonnie back on the bike.   This was to be a short-lived victory however as right away, there was another hill – short but too steep.  Again, we pulled over and got Bonnie off the bike.  This time, my daughter Sarah took a turn in the saddle and we easily made it to the top.  The problem was, though, Bonnie was done – both physically and emotionally.  She had been trying to ride the bike with her feet on the rest bar and they kept slipping off.  It hurt, and it was a very frustrating reminder of how the disease had progressed.  Bonnie couldn’t keep her foot from sliding.  She physically couldn’t stop it – she simply didn’t have the strength.  She was done.  Team Crawford threw in the towel.  Bonnie was not going to cross the finish line after all.  Despite the preparation and the fact that 100 people were at the finish line ready to cheer her across – it was not going to happen.

Sarah stayed on the bike with me and we started riding the rest of the way to the finish on our own.  Bonnie rode with our brother Tony who tried to encourage her as she cried.  Our caravan got closer to the finish, with both pacer cars following.  With just three blocks to go, I turned down a side street and the cars followed.  I pulled up to a curb and looked at Bonnie.  She looked at me.  Then, with a look of grim determination, she opened the car door.  I told Sarah to get off. She handed the bike helmet to Bonnie, and as she strapped it on, she said, “Let’s do this.”  Again, Team Bonnie went to work.

This time, we tied her feet to the pedals.  No more rest bar.  We decided to go for broke.  Bonnie asked for the pacer cars to leave and go ahead.  We were alone – just the two of us.  Just how we started this 12 years ago.

We waited about five minutes and just talked.  Bonnie strapped to the bike and me holding it up.  Finally, I asked her if she was ready and Bonnie said, “Yes.”

“OK,” I said, “1, 2, 3, go!”  And off we went.  Wobbling our way until we got enough speed to get stable.  We rode a ways and turned a corner where up ahead, we could see it – the finish line was within sight!  People could see us coming.  Bells were ringing, people were clapping and cheering.  We kept pedaling as Bonnie excitedly talked in my ear.  We made it!  Bonnie crossed the finish line for the third time and the first since 2008!

That was an awesome display of Bonnie’s will and the combined efforts of Team Bonnie and our friend Lisa.  It would have been super easy for Bonnie to quit before finishing.  She was tired, frustrated and in pain.  And it would have been a smart decision for all of us to let that happen.  It was not safe for Bonnie to be on that bike.  But she hung in there as Bonnie does and she did it!  

And God was watching over us too.

This year, our friend Michael was not able to ride.  I was disappointed.  He is our greatest inspiration.  He’s the guy with MS who saw Bonnie cross the finish line for the first time back in 2007 and said, “If Bonnie can ride, maybe I can ride too.”  And then he did ride in 2009 and again in 2010.  But not this year.  It just didn’t work out.  But Michael said he is committed to getting back on the bike next year.  That will be our highlight!  I can’t wait.

Thanks to all of you!  We are amazed at the support we have received throughout the 12 years we have been a part of this event.  Long ago we said, let’s do this ride one time, and now we have roots.  The riders, the volunteers, the event itself and the feeling we get that we are helping a wonderful group of people see a brighter future, filled with hope for better days – that brings us back every year.  Please take a second to realize how much of a difference you have made.  Your support pushed our fundraising more than $250,000 in 12 years – an amazing amount of money!  Your support motivates me to keep pushing those pedals.  And your support creates hope for hundreds of people with MS who attend this annual event and look us in the eye to say thank you.  What they mean to say, is thank YOU.

If you haven’t already donated and you want to, please go to my participant site. We have until September 15th for all donations: National MS Society Donations (Chris and Bonnie) Thanks again!"

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Fight Against MS: Motion Without Limits

Back from cheering on cyclist Chris Crawford and his sister Bonnie at the annual Bike MS Fundraiser in Portland, Oregon. Continued from last week, Chris would like to share his 2010 write-up after completing a 100 mile ride. Bishop-Wisecarver is proud to be his corporate sponsor this year in the 2011 event. To learn more about him, his sister Bonnie and their fight against MS, check out our latest webisode series "Motion Without Limits" on our YouTube channel. To read his 2009 letter, click here. Photographs and video coverage of this last weekend's event to follow this week!

One of Our Happiest Moments by Chris Crawford
MS Bike Ride: Written in 2010

"This year’s ride was a great experience – inspiring, challenging, fun and funny. I was inspired by Bonnie’s progress this past year. Bonnie was at a low point one short year ago, probably one of the lowest points I have seen. Her knee was shot. The bone-on-bone pain was to the point where she really couldn’t walk. But it was more than her knee – it was the culmination of a period of high stress, other family health issues and dealing with MS every day. The bad knee topped it all off.

At that time, the only real solution was a knee replacement – a tough option for someone with MS. Especially at Bonnie’s advanced age. But more than anything, Bonnie just wasn’t herself, she was just down. So, Bonnie had made the decision to have the knee surgery but first had to commit to a knee-strengthening program. Otherwise she would not have been able to handle the rehab. At the August 2009 MS event, she was a month into the strength training and she was frustrated by the lack of visible results. We talked about how the impact of exercise is felt little by little, but as long as long as she was committed to it, she will feel and eventually see results.

Sure enough, by October 2009, Bonnie said she did feel stronger. She had the surgery in February 2010, and was done with post-surgery rehab and was exercising again since June. But, Bonnie couldn’t ride this year. She still doesn’t feel strong enough. So now, at this year’s MS event, Bonnie was again frustrated with how she felt and the lack of progress. Once again, she left the event knowing that if she commits to the exercise program, in 6-8 weeks she will feel and see the difference. And she realized actually how far she has come since her surgery, and how much better she actually feels since last year. Our conversations included talk of hope and realizing she is not alone in this fight. She knows that now (again), and is mentally and spiritually stronger too. To see her come around over this weekend was very inspiring, and I know Bonnie is committed to doing what she has to do. Next year, Bonnie will ride.

I was challenged by the ride itself. I trained this year. I actually trained. I’ve been riding pretty much every other day for over two months. I had gotten to the point of regularly riding 20 mile rides. Then my friend Jason pushed me to go more – so my last three sessions were 38 miles, 28 miles and 40 miles. I was training so I could try to ride “The Century” – that’s 100 miles in one day! I did it last year, but had not planned on doing it. I just did it because the opportunity was there and it was a relatively easy course.

This year, I was motivated to actually train and planned on trying to do it again. Why you ask? I feel it is important to challenge myself to show my commitment to the fight against MS. I don’t want to just show up, even though I could. So, I trained. And it is a good thing I did! This year was the toughest course in years and the hilliest course I’ve ever been on – 102 miles long and it was basically one hill after another, after another, after another. People were walking up hills in just the first five miles and people were walking up hills during the last five miles. And at least four other times in between too.

Two hills were so steep that I was going less than four miles per hour up the hill – that is hard to do on a bike. One hill was so long and so steep that by the time I got to the top I almost passed out from breathing so hard. But I made it. And I never could have made it this year with Bonnie on the tandem – it was just too hard and too many hills. In the end, Bonnie did not miss out.

Next year they are going to have rides more suitable for people with MS like they did the last couple years. But I learned a lesson – training actually works! I know. I know. The fun part was unexpected. Normally Bonnie and I go to these rides with a bunch of people in our entourage – people we love and love to have with us. But this year, for a number of reasons, no one else could come the first day/night. Our wingman, Barbara (sister), could not be there. Trini (Bonnie’s husband) couldn’t make it until Saturday. And others too. So, Bonnie and I hung out together, just the two of us, for the first day.

The first thing we did was go to the site of the ride where we see some really great people we haven’t seen in a year: Michael, Big John, and a bunch of SlugFish teammates. Then we went to the MS party to hang out with the people in charge of the ride. We saw Brie and Kevin, our new MS buds. We helped decorate the team tent, had a kami, ate good food and laughed. It was extra fun this year because it was a bonus to hang out with just Bonnie, just this once, for the entire time. Trini was there for day two, and we had a blast too.

In fact, one of the funniest things of the weekend was when I looked down at Bonnie’s knee and said, “Is that where you had your surgery?” Obvious, I know – you had to be there – but all of a sudden I saw this seven inch scar on her knee and thought, “Whoa!”

Well, of course Bonnie said, “Yes.” Well then my brain took over and all my thoughts came out of my mouth. I said “Whoa, that is gnarly. If you put a few cross zippers on that it would look like a Frankenstein scar.”

Trini looked at me in shock and says, “You just ruined four months of me telling Bonnie that it didn’t’ look that bad.” All three of us laughed our heads off, one of those gut laughs that make you still laugh the next day when you think about it.

Another really fun thing was hanging out with my brother-in-law Colin who swore he was only doing the 75 mile ride. At one point, I shook hands with him goodbye and said see you at the finish. Then we split up – he went left, I went right. Next thing you know, there he is coming up behind me, going with me all the way on the Century. It was great, even as hard as it was.

The second day at rest stop #1, Colin mentioned he wished they served coffee at the rest stops. As we got on our bikes to keep going, I saw a sign, “View Point Inn – ¼ mile.” I thought, ‘It’s off the bike route but they might have coffee’. So, I suggest we try it.

We rode up the hill and saw a light on. We went around back where a guy asks, “What can I help you with?” I said, “Do you think we can buy a couple of cups of coffee?” He said, “I’ll treat. What do you want? Latte, Mocha, cappuccino, what?”

We were stunned! I said, “Two lattes would be great.” He said, “Come on in.”

We took off our bike shoes and went inside. Next thing you know, we are sitting on couches, feet up, in front of a roaring fire, looking out through the veranda, down the Gorge of the Columbia River, on a beautiful sunny day, drinking scrumptious lattes. How that happened I’ll never know!

Finally, one of the most inspiring moments of all took place after the ride when I received this letter from Michael Braem: “In September of 1997, I was diagnosed with MS. At that time I became a volunteer and soon after an avid volunteer at events and conferences. The one event that impressed me the most was the MS Bike Ride. In this two day event, you get to know people on a more personable level and hear their story. Then I would tell them mine. I would start on Friday and go ‘til Sunday afternoon. I was drained by Sunday, but in a great way. As years go, you form bonds. Some still to this day after years I greet them with hugs and we would say how good it is to get together for another year, riding to find a cure to stop this chronic disease. The energy is like Christmas to me. We’re all fighting for the same cause. I had only wished I could ride. It was the part of the weekend I wasn't a part of. Like a young kid looking through a wrought iron gate at other kids playing and only can watch. Heartbreaking. Not in the beginning would I have been able to ride because my MS was so unstable, but later, feeling good and stable, I yearned to ride. After being introduced to my three wheel recumbent bike, I can now ride. I feel whole again.”

Michael made his decision to ride after watching Bonnie and me cross the finish line that first time, three years ago. I still remember Michael coming up to me and saying, “If Bonnie can ride, maybe I can ride too.”

Watching Michael ride these past three years is one of our happiest MS moments. Among all the experiences, I never take for granted how each of you helps Bonnie and me in our fight against MS. It is that support that creates hope. One of the most powerful emotions I can think of. Thank you again – and I’ll be back next year – a year when Bonnie and I, thanks to you, will have raised a cumulative total of more than one quarter of a million dollars! Unbelievable! Thanks again!"

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Fight Against MS: Motion Without Limits

Continued from last week, Chris Crawford would like to share his write-up from 2009 after the Bike MS fundraiser. Bishop-Wisecarver is sponsoring him in this year's 2011 bike ride, and you can learn more about him, his sister Bonnie and their fight against MS in our latest webisode series "Motion Without Limits" on our YouTube channel. To read his 2008 letter, click here.

She is a Fighter by Chris Crawford
MS Bike Ride: Written in 2009

"This year’s ride started with a tough reality – Bonnie told me she could not ride.  After two years of riding on the back of my tandem bike, Bonnie was instead sitting in a wheel chair, back as a volunteer at Rest Stop #1.  While this is obviously an important part of supporting the fundraising effort, it is not the same as feeling the wind in your face, pushing those pedals, crossing that finish line, and feeling like you, personally, are creating a visual impact of the power of the will – truly giving hope to others with MS.  Remember our friend Michael who, after seeing Bonnie ride two years ago found a way that he too could ride – this was his second year riding solo.  Bonnie helped Michael find the will to do that.  Seeing Bonnie sitting in a wheel chair this year was a tough thing for me to see.

Plus, not only was I sad that Bonnie couldn’t ride, but I also knew that I would actually have to train for a longer ride myself.  When Bonnie rides with me, we go the short route (between 20-35 miles), which is something you can kind of gut your way through.  Now, going solo, I knew I had to ride the 75-85 miles typical of the first day rider.  With a long sigh, I started training in May.

I worked hard at training and had a boost when I was helping my niece Tayler train for a boot camp experience.  Our gym trainer introduced us to all kinds of crazy routines, and it got me in shape.

I arrived in Portland in probably the best bike shape I’ve been in – in many years.  After joining Bonnie and her husband Trini, we set off for Stayton, Oregon, a very small town about 60 miles south near Silver Falls State Park, the site of this year’s ride.  We were joined by dear friend Twyla, and Bonnie’s favorite sister Barbara (certainly in my top two sisters, either #1 or #2 for sure).

There were about 500 riders, plus that many or more volunteers.  It is always heartwarming to arrive at the site and see people that have become our friends, which we only see once a year, who always provide such a warm welcome.  This is our 10th year doing this ride, and it is hard to imagine.  Believe it or not, we are close to having raised $200,000 – a total we will crest next year!  That is amazing!  And this year, we joined a new team – new to us at least – Team SlugFish, headed up by a great guy and legendary fund raiser, John Tietjen. While I know the SlugFish name is crazy, the people on the team are definitely not. They are a group of amazing people who are dedicated to finding a cure for MS. They have a ton of positive energy to share and they make the best homemade pies in the world. It was very fun being on an active team again. Our prior team, the MS Busters, basically disbanded this year.  I was told that tends to happen over time to people who volunteer.  I don’t see that happening to Bonnie and me.

Seeing Bonnie in a wheel chair is scary – scary for me, for her husband and kids, and it is especially scary for Bonnie.  We all know how the disease can progress.  Some people never get out of the wheel chair once they sit down in it.  Bonnie is such a fighter but I hate the thought of her not exercising regularly (since late last year).  Even worse was the feeling I had when she told me that, even on a day when she felt she could exercise, she chose not to go to the gym because she doesn’t want people to see her like that.  She doesn’t want to have to explain to people how she has gotten to this point

Bonnie had chosen to remain isolated from her support group.  Not all the time, but much more of the time.  That is a shift in Bonnie that I had not seen, and had not expected to ever see.  Bonnie is someone that when they tell her that the numbness in her throat is a symptom that may lead to loss of her voice, she takes singing lessons.  When they tell her that if she doesn’t exercise she may lose mobility, Bonnie says “Screw that!” and gets up at 5 am every day to swim in the pool.  When they tell Bonnie to give up this or that because it might help her fight this disease, she doesn’t think twice.  Bonnie hates the idea of not being able to walk, or talk or losing control and being dependent on others.  She absolutely hates it.  Yet, here was Bonnie isolating herself from others because she felt uncomfortable sharing this tough news.

The speaker at this year’s ride was Dr. Stanley Cohan, who just happens to be Bonnie’s neurologist and is a renowned expert in MS.  We had the privilege of sitting with Dr. Cohan for about 45 minutes prior to his speech, during which he basically gave Bonnie a private appointment. During that talk we learned that Bonnie’s nerve pain that covers much of her arms and legs is a natural symptom of MS.  We learned that Bonnie’s inability to naturally heal from a knee injury like most of us would (and the reason she was in a wheel chair to begin with) was likely a side effect of the drugs Bonnie takes for MS.  I learned that the memory loss, the feeling of isolation, the foot drag, the weakness, the numbness, the pain – are all part of living with MS.  I also learned that Bonnie is one of Dr. Cohan’s favorite patients.  He said she is a fighter.  She will do anything and everything to stop the progression of this disease.  Dr. Cohan shared his belief that Bonnie can get better.  He believes there is a cream that may relieve her nerve pain.  He said that a knee replacement is likely necessary for Bonnie but that MS patients can handle such a procedure and she can regain her ability to walk.  We were very encouraged by his words and it was wonderful that Dr. Cohan knows Bonnie like we do – that Bonnie’s fight is what keeps her strong.

I want Bonnie to stop feeling uncomfortable about other people seeing the way the disease affects her. I want to see Bonnie out of that wheel chair.  I do not want Bonnie to give up hope, thinking that all this hard work doesn’t make a difference.  I know it does.  Dr. Cohan said that the amount of money provided by our government and through government sponsored activities for MS is a mere pittance compared to other diseases that affect a similar number of people (about 400,000 in the US today have MS).  But for many, MS can affect them for 20, 30, 40 or more years.  Bonnie has had MS for 25 years.  That is a long time to fight this fight.  But with your help, and all those that give their time or money to fight this disease, we are making a difference.

You are amazing in your generosity.  There are a lot of worthwhile causes, and certainly these days in our economy are tough for many.  Your support, at whatever level, is so much appreciated.  And one more thing I want to share with you.  This year, of all years, I completed a Century Ride – that is 100 miles in one day.  It was definitely not easy but I was in good biking shape and the route seemed manageable so I thought I could do it.  I went for it and while the last 10 miles were absolutely killer, and it will take awhile for the pain to go away, I did it!  And most importantly, if Bonnie gets one ounce of extra fight in her, because I gave everything I had for her, it is worth it.

Thanks again for your help.  And cheers to our next 10 years!"