Guest post by Lucas Kessler, MS Bike participant
When I first started participating in MS Bike two years ago, it was because I liked riding my bike. Sports have always been a pretty big part of my life – I do everything from alpine skiing, to swimming, to my all-time favourite sport: basketball. I was biking with my dad one night when he mentioned MS Bike to me. “What’s that?” I asked, followed soon after with, “That’s cool, let’s do it!”
I was 12 at the time, and didn’t know many people my age who did fundraising events like MS Bike. For me, multiple sclerosis has always been a part of my life because both my cousin and my grandma have been diagnosed with it. I’ve seen what living with MS looks like and how it has changed their lives in different ways. For my grandma, it means that she needs lots of rest and must limit what she can do in a day. For my cousin, MS has changed her career goals – when she was diagnosed she was very close to becoming a commercial pilot, but having MS meant that she couldn’t pass the medical exam needed to get her license.
It was things like this that really made me think of what I could do to help, and with some family and friends we came up with team “MyButts-Eh-King”. I’m the captain, and I’m the youngest MS Bike team captain I know of! Right after we registered, I got started on my fundraising. I hit the streets and went door-to-door in my small town of Coronach, Saskatchewan, to ask for donations. When I saw what I’d been able to raise in the first few weeks, I realized that I’d be able to raise a lot more before event day. And I did!
“When I saw what I’d been able to raise in the first few weeks, I realized that I’d be able to raise a lot more before event day.”
Although I’d only ridden my bike a little before I joined MS Bike, the event really got me into cycling. Before the events, I trained mostly on my electronic trainer and completed a few longer outdoor rides as practice. Over the past two years, I’ve raised almost $20,000 and this year I’m setting my sights on hitting $12,500. Together with my team of nine, we hope to raise $25,000. It’s important to me to set high fundraising goals, because I know the money I raise is going to help people like my grandma and cousin.
Since I’d raised so much money for MS last year, I had the opportunity to go to the Tour of Champions with my parents this year. The Tour of Champions is an opportunity for top Canadian MS Bike fundraisers to team up and travel to an MS Bike destination in the USA, and celebrate their fundraising successes and represent Team Canada at the event!
This year the Tour was from Houston to Austin, Texas. I cycled 185 kilometres over the course of the two-day event and it was awesome! I got to meet a whole bunch of cool people who are doing the same thing I am, and I made many new friends. For me, socializing is the best part of any MS Bike event!
One of my favourite moments from the Tour of Champions was on the second day of the weekend. As we were cycling the final kilometres of the course, the streets were lined with thousands of people who were all cheering us on. With their encouragement ringing in our ears, my parents and I cycled across the finish line with most of Team Canada. The atmosphere at the end of the event was a moment I’m not going to forget.
It’s important for people to get involved in things like MS Bike. Not only do I think it builds character, but I know that I’m actually doing something to make a difference. To other kids my age who may be thinking of joining MS Bike, I can tell you that it’s a really fun event. The fact that I was 12 when I started this journey doesn’t make a difference – I’m still just as motivated as ever to reach my fundraising goals so that one day in the future, we can find a cure. It would mean that people like my grandma and cousin could have full control over their lives again.
Lucas is an inspiring young MS Bike participant living in Saskatchewan. At 14 years old, he’s an avid cyclist and basketball player, and is a top fundraiser for MS Bike – proving that it doesn’t matter how old you are, anyone can make a difference in the lives of Canadians living with MS. Gear up with people like Lucas today, and take on the challenge of MS Bike! Visit www.msbike.ca to join a team or donate to a cyclist.