Students stand for MS gains support

Published 8:07 pm Friday, June 19, 2009

When Luther Messick heard that Rachel Freeman was opening a lemonade stand to benefit multiple sclerosis, he hopped on his bicycle and rode right over to congratulate the young fundraiser and make a donation.

Rachel is taking a “Stand Against MS” because she has realized how devastating the disease can be and wants “to do something about it.”

The “Stand Against MS” will be open from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. today inside Radio Shack at 604 George Wallace Drive in Troy. For a donation to MS, visitors to the stand will get a can of Sunkist lemonade and a bag of Bud’s Best cookies.

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Messick said it’s good to see young people who are concerned about those who are facing serious health issues and then getting involved in finding solutions.

Messick has been helping raise funds for MS since 1988.

He has been a “runner” for 50 years and has competed in triathlons for 20 years.

“Triathlons include swimming, biking and running,” Messick said. “So, to compete, I had to buy a bicycle. It was the first one I had ever owned. I was one of 15 young’uns and we didn’t have the money for things like bicycles. When I started competing in triathlons, I met a lot of bikers who were riding for multiple sclerosis. In 1988, I participated in my first Bike MS.”

The Bike MS events are not races but neither are they rides in the park. The events are divided into two-day, 75-miles per day “rides.”

“The first day’s not bad but, when you get up that second morning, you feel it and know that 75 miles is a good piece down the road,” Messick said. “But every 10 miles there are break stations where you can get water or energy drinks. There’s one lady who has been working a stand for years. She has MS and, when you see people like her and how much they appreciate what we are doing, it makes all the effort more than worthwhile.”

Since Messick has been participating in Bike MS, he has gotten to know many people who have the disease that affects the central nervous system.

He has a friend in Troy with MS and has ridden in her honor.

“I rode with her picture on the back of my shirt,” he said.

“One of the MS riders has the disease, and she’s a good rider. She said she’ll keep riding until she can’t ride anymore.

The best thing that people with MS can do is stay active. That’s the best thing any of us can do – stay as active as we can.”

Messick has sponsors for his Bike MS events and the sponsors have committed to him as long as he continues to participate.

And, Messick has no plans to stop biking for MS, and he applauds young people like Rachel Freeman who will continue to carry the torch of hope for those who suffer from MS and other devastating diseases until the races are won.