This week is my granny's birthday. That's her, over there, holding my nephew a few months after he was born, in one of the last "good" pictures I could find of her. You see, it's more accurate to say this week would have been her birthday. She passed away early last May after nearly a 30 year battle against multiple sclerosis (MS). I'm fortunate and lucky in a lot of ways, because I had the unique privilege while growing up of having my granny live with my family on a side apartment my parents built for her. I got to see her literally everyday. She instilled a lot of things in me - she taught me everything I knew about Scrabble, and she taught me what it means to be a devoted fan of the Philadelphia Phillies, which wasn't always the easiest in the post-Mike Schmidt/pre-butt-kickin' years.
But she taught me much more than that. I'm just old enough to remember her having the ability to walk with the assistance of a walker or cane, and her having the mobility to go places on a motorized scooter. We actually went up the street sometimes on her scooter, just the two of us, to go get some ice cream. Slowly, as the MS sapped her strength, she became wheelchair bound, then to her bed, then to a nursing home, to specialized wheelchair after specialized wheelchair, and finally (almost exclusively) to a bed. It's hard to see someone who you love so much go through all of that. But my granny did, and she did so without questioning or complaining or wondering "Why me?" and without self pity. In fact, she focused almost exclusively on what she had - a strong faith, a family that cared for her deeply and visited often with news, her needs provided for, Harry Kalas on the Phillies broadcast - and not what she didn't - use of one side of her body, muscle strength, the ability to fully take care of herself. It is not only her life but also the way she lived that has taught me about love, faith, courage, and what the Sunday School lyric of "(we) are weak but He is strong" truly means. I love her and miss her dearly, but I know now, free from the shackles of her body, she is truly in a better place, laughing and dancing and looking out over her family still.
It's in honor of my granny's memory and legacy that this June, I'm participating in the Western PA chapter of the National MS Society's BikeMS: Escape to the Lake, a two-day, 135 mile bike ride benefit event. Yes, it's kind of a crazy event which I've been training for, but my participation in the event is not about me. It's about funding research to try and find a prevention or cure for this debilitating disease that affects hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. alone, over 7000 of whom reside in southwest PA. It's about the providing for them the treatment and equipment they need to make through their day and their lives. Most of all, it's about being a part of something that says to the individuals and families affected by MS that there's a community out there who knows about the pains and trials of the disease, and who loves and supports them and wants to offer them hope.
I know with these times and current events that there's a lot of great causes vying for your hard-earned money, but as this is one that has struck me, I would like to ask that you consider supporting me for my ride. There's a link at the end of this that is my personal fundraising page that also offers some more details on what I'm undertaking here. Please, consider it, and any amount you could give will go towards making a significant difference. Seriously, even if everyone reading this gave the $6 I told you to not waste on the turkey meatloaf muffins ... I cannot fathom the positive change that would affect in this world.
To entice you (this is where the contest part comes in ...), anyone who donates gets entered into a drawing, and whoever wins can pick out literally ANY Trader Joe product and as long as I can track it down, I will review it. Nominate your favorite, or something you're curious about, or something you think is gawd-awful and want me to tear a new one on, go for it. It can't be any worse than those meatloaf muffins ... can it? Deadline for this contest is through the end of this month, though I believe donations can be accepted up through the start of the bike ride, which is the second weekend of June.
Anyways, thank you for reading our blog, for reading this entry in particular, and for considering donating towards this cause. Together, we can help rid the world of MS, once and for all.
Fundraising webpage link: Click here