Wanda Bouchard-Barry had recently entered in the workforce, was a young mother, newly married, and had just beginning to build her life in Regina when she was diagnosed with remitting MS in 1987. While MS has altered Wanda’s life, to say that Wanda has fought back would be an understatement. Since then, her impact on the MS community in Saskatchewan has been enormous – and often involved her bike.
She discovered the MS Bike event in 1992 after hearing her pharmacists talk about participating in the it and decided to sign up as a volunteer.
“I saw so many other people cycling for the cause, all shapes and sizes riding in the MS Bike for people with MS – for me! I needed to do it for myself. I needed to know that I could do my part to help raise funds to support research for MS.”
That motivation has driven Wanda to continue to participate in an incredible total of 35 MS Bike tours (26 rides in the South Tour and 10 times in the North Tour)! Her team, lovingly named Zena’s Warriors has fluctuated to up to 31 cyclists and raised a team total of $390,922.84 with $70,856.01 of that being contributed by Wanda’s efforts. She certainly has achieved her goal.
While she now rides with her team, she initially rode solo.
“I remember riding the very first time. I was riding along the path and up ahead at a roadway, I saw my parent’s vehicle. I stopped and asked what they were doing out there…They were there to keep an eye on me to make sure I would be OK!”
In 2007, she cycled across Saskatchewan to raise awareness and funds for the fight against MS, stopping to donate books about MS to schools in each community she passed through on her seven-day journey. Her love of cycling has expanded through her role as a Cycling Coach with Spoke N’ Hot, a women’s-only cycling club that promotes cycling in a safe, friendly, and encouraging environment. It also empowers women to cycle more often and builds confidence and community. In 2008, Wanda was awarded the World Charity Award in Toronto for her outstanding volunteerism and support of the MS Society.
Wanda is a fiercely independent person. Living with MS has taught her that it’s alright to let other people support – whether at work or home – so that she’s able to best take care of herself.
“In the beginning, it was rough. Being a wife and a mother, others were dependant on me and sometimes I could not do it. MS needs to run its course, so I needed to let it do it. Things would get better – later. I learned that dishes, laundry, shopping or whatever could wait! I managed my symptoms by giving MS the respect it deserves, paying attention to the day and the body. It’s fine to push it at times, but you need to give the body the rest it needs, otherwise MS will shut me down.”
Join the movement today and help support those living with MS. Learn more and register at msbike.ca.