Last weekend, Brent Fry of Tiffin cycled about 75 miles from Brunswick to Sandusky in a multiple sclerosis fundraiser called Pedal to the Point, organized by the National MS Society, Ohio Buckeye Chapter.
A celebrity participant, Phil Keoghan, host of the television reality show, "Great American Race," invited Fry to be an honorary teammate on the Together in MS Cycling Team, a group Keoghan founded in 2011.
About 15 years ago, Fry was diagnosed with MS but he has been able to remain employed at Cooper Tire, and he stays active. He has ridden in Bike to the Bay, from Toledo to Sandusky, four times. He got the call for Pedal to the Point a few days before the event. Despite the short notice, Fry was excited for the opportunity. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. gave Fry's contact information to Keoghan.
"The drug company (for the medication) that I'm on was looking for inspirational people with MS but didn't let MS define them. They were partenering with Phil Keoghan. He has a team called Together in MS and they do five MS bike rides across the country. This year, they chose to do the one in Cleveland," Fry said. "He usually picks two or three people who have MS to ride in the event.
Keoghan rode with MS patient Regina Lyalls of North Carolina on a tandem bicycle.
The Together in MS team also had riders on two other tandems, while Fry and a Cleveland teammate had their own bicycles. They all wore "No Opportunity Wasted" uniforms and rode in a cluster.
Fry said the 2012 Ohio ride attracted more than 2,900 participants, the largest turnout ever, probably because of Keoghan's presence.
"He's an MS advocate. He raised over $1 million last year for MS," Fry said. "It was an honor to be on his team."
Other team members included riders from North Carolina, California and
two MS patients from the Cleveland area.
Fry's workout routine includes riding four times a week for a total of about 140 miles. He rides shorter distances on a tandem bike with his wife, Tiffany, but meeting a variety of people at the large-scale events has been interesting.
"It's nice because you're riding along and you meet somebody and start talking along the way," Fry said. "My doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, the Mellen Center, had a team in it. They have a team every year, and they had over 90 riders in it this year. I was riding along this year and passed a couple Cleveland Clinic people. I looked over and it was my doctor. I got to talk to him for a little while. It kind of surprised me. I didn't expect to see him there."
Statistics from www.togetherinms.
com state 400,000 people in the United States live with MS. It affects twice as many women as men. Although MS can be debilitating, people can find ways to adapt and live relatively normal lives.
Fry said the key is to work with a physician to see what treatment works best for the individual.
"It affects everybody differently. There's no two cases that are the same," he said. "I've had it for 15 years, but this was a great experience for me to spread the word. Whether you're newly diagnosed or you've had it for a long time, it's still an inspirational story."