PatientsLikeMe member MLR was an avid BMX (Bicycle Motocross), MTB (Mountain Bike Racing) and Motocross athlete his entire life – until he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) last year. After having to give up the sport he loved, MLR began to suffer from depression. Today, however, he’s happy to report that he’s racing again thanks to an amazing turn of events. Check out his incredibly moving story below.
1. How did you and your family react to your MS diagnosis?
It was very tough when we found out it was MS that was causing all these problems and keeping me from training and racing. My family traveled with me always, and it was like going on vacations every month. We were a racing family.
2. How have you adjusted to living with MS – and what tips do you have for newly diagnosed MS patients who identify as athletes?
The hardest part for me was accepting the fact that I was not going to be able to race and do most of the things I had done for so many years. But my family didn’t give up on me like I did. They pushed me through the depression, and my faith in God carried me through my deepest valleys and set me on the mountain tops to see what my life could still be. As athletes, we just have to keep that drive. We have to compete and make adjustments and keep competing. Compete against the odds and against MS itself.
3. You have a new gravity downhill wheelchair that you’re racing now. How did that come about, and what’s it like to race in one?
My new gravity wheelchair is a blast! It was built by Active Force Foundation, with four wheel independent suspension (6.5″ of travel), four wheel disc brakes and all built out of aluminum. It is so fun to ride and race.
The greatest thing about this chair is how I received it. My two daughters started talking to people in our sport of BMX about my disease and how it had really taken its toll on me and how depressed I was that I couldn’t ride a bicycle any more. So over about a year to a year and a half, the whole BMX sport joined with them and raised the $11,000 to buy me this 4Cross DH chair. When they presented me with the concept of getting this chair, I was overwhelmed at the love and support from not only my two awesome daughters but also from my fellow racers and BMX family. The family of BMX is worldwide. Needless to say I cried like a baby for the support and love I felt from these wonderful people.
I ride my awesome DH chair every chance I get. Although they aren’t very many races for these chairs, I have so much fun showing up to race events and showing the chair off and letting people sit in it and sometime letting people get pushed around a parking lot in it. So if you ever get a chance to go see some BMX racing or you know someone in BMX, know that it is a great sport and the people are a loving and caring group. By the way, BMX is an Olympic sport, and you can see it again in the 2012 London Olympic Games!