Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fighting MS one peddle at a time

In November 2001, my mother-in-law, Sonia, passed away. It was seven months after my husband and I were married. She didn't make it to our wedding because she was bedridden in a nursing home. She had multiple sclerosis.

When Sonia was 16-years-old, she was diagnosed with MS after suddenly going blind. She was behind the wheel of a car, learning how to drive. Shortly after her diagnosis, she became paralyzed from the waste down. Her sight eventually returned, but she would never walk again and she suffered tremendous pain and muscle tightening daily. At times she couldn't even swallow.

Several years later, Sonia met the man who would become her husband at physical therapy. When he was 16, he was pronounced dead for two minutes after his appendix burst. He was brought back to life, but was paralyzed from the waste down.

The two married, and despite tremendous odds and extreme disapproval from everyone, including her obstetrician, they had a child. My husband.

She was a month overdue when the doctors finally decided to perform a c-section. While lying on the table preparing for the surgery, the doctor asked her for the last time if she was sure she really wanted to have this baby. It was 1973, and the medical community didn't know what MS would do to a child. I can't even imagine how she must have felt.

My husband was born completely healthy. But having two handicapped parents meant Jon had to grow up fast. His childhood was far from normal. He had to learn how to do common household chores and simple emergency medical procedures at a very young age. At the age of 10, Jon had to perform a tracheotomy on his mother to prevent her from choking to death.

When Sonia died, my husband felt helpless. She could no longer speak, she couldn't move herself and she was in pain; and there wasn't anything Jon could do to help her. Five years after her death, in 2006, my husband learned about the MS150 City to Shore bike ride. It is two day, 150-mile bike ride that raises money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This race became an opportunity for my husband to do something in honor of his mother, and I couldn't be more proud of his achievement. He finished the race with a respectable time and raised more than $2,000 for the MS Society.

His efforts inspired me to want to take part in the ride. Unfortunately, neither of us could participate in 2007 because Ryan was born just two weeks before the race. This year, with no baby on the way, Jon and I are determined to do it. We've formed a team, Team Sonia, and will be riding in the 2008 MS 150 City to Shore ride on Sept. 27 and 28, but we need your help.

You can help by by making a tax deductible donation to Team Sonia by clicking here or on the MS150 logo. If you live in the Philadelphia, Pa., area, you can also become a member of our team and ride in memory of Sonia Hoffman. No experience is necessary, but you must have a bike. If you are interested, please e-mail me or go to the donation site and click on the join Diane's Team button.

I will be tracking our fundraising efforts on this site. I'm currently working with the MS Society and hope to have a wigget on this site soon so you can follow our efforts.

Please help us raise some much needed funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society so that in the future, no one will have to ever suffer like Sonia. If you donate by clicking on this link, you will be making your tax deductible donation directly to the MS Society. I will not have access to any of your financial information. Please e-mail me with any questions or concerns. I will be happy to help.


Anonymous said...

You know we will contribute. I am very proud of both of you for taking on this challenge. Have you started your training yet?
Love Mom

Autumn's Mom said...

What an incredible story :) I wish you the best of luck!

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

Just popping over from Mamsphere's to say "thank you"!

I am living with MS and greatly appreciate everyone who participates in the walk-a-thons and bike-a-thons.

Your mother-in-law would be proud!