The first episode that sent me to the doctor, with unexplainable symptoms occurred the day before Thanksgiving 2016. The entire left half of my body suddenly felt tingly like when you have been sitting on your foot and then change position and realize it had “fallen asleep.” My handwriting was like a child’s; my balance was off. This episode sent me to the doctor and we went through a round of tests including MRI’s of my brain and spine, clinical testing, and a lumbar puncture to verify what doctors already suspected based upon my symptoms. After several months of doctor visits and tests, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I began learning as much as I could about my new reality. I researched the disease. I looked at the various organizations, treatments, and supports for those wrestling with multiple sclerosis outside of the medical community.
Serendipitously, my daughter’s roommate bought a used bike on Facebook Marketplace. When she went to pick up the bike, she learned about this wonderful organization called WrestlingMS and got contact information. Miranda shared the information with me, and I reached out for more information. I connected with Les Gatrel and began my journey with WrestlingMS.
Since beginning to ride routinely with this community of friends in 2020, I have gained strength and balance. At first, I struggled to ride just a few miles. Now I ride 20 miles and more at a time, several times each week. I was afraid to ride outside my neighborhood. Now I ride from my home to trails and all over town. I enjoy riding. Before it was a chore. Getting on my bike is always the door to an adventure! More important than cycling, is the community of people who support one another. We are all struggling with a neurological disorder called MS. We keep active and fight the disease, we support and encourage one another.
Wrestling MS is hosting our Annual WrestlingMS Fundraiser this fall, on October 7. My goal individually is to raise $500. All funds raised go directly to provide bicycles and cycling gear to support MS patients to live a healthier and more active lifestyle.
Wrestling MS was founded after Les Gatrel was diagnosed with MS. Like many MS patients, when Les Gatrel was diagnosed with MS he saw a future of disability, loss of financial security, and a life turned upside down. That’s when his college fraternity brothers and wrestling teammates challenged Les to take up cycling as a way to fight MS. Struggling with a loss of balance, loss of muscle control and loss of strength he couldn’t ride 100 feet when he started. But through the encouragement and support of friends, and his dedicated training over the last few years Les has made tremendous strides in regaining his health. From his first 12 mile ride on a tandem bike to riding 470 miles across Iowa in 7 days, he’s become an avid cyclist and ambassador of cycling covering over 4000 miles in the last 3 years! Inspired by what others have done to help him, and how cycling “saved his life”, Les and his friends started Les Wrestles MS and the WrestlingMS cycling program with the goal of helping other MS patients like him. Today WrestlingMS is devoted to helping other MS patients find hope, strength, and freedom by wrestling the disease of Multiple Sclerosis through cycling. Please consider helping WrestlingMS deliver on this goal by donating to our program!