When Catherine Leroux was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 20 years ago, she “didn’t react well,” she said.
“It was the shock, the ‘why me,’” said the Ottawa resident. But then the energetic 35-year-old quickly turned it around.
Already a cyclist, Leroux stepped up her training after her diagnosis “because I was able.” A month later, she learned about a new MS bike tour event and signed up.
Twenty years later, Leroux, now 55, makes it a point to participate every year. In addition to celebrating the 20th anniversary of the ride, she’s celebrating 20 years since her last attack.
Biking has kept her active and healthy, she said.
“When I started out, I had a personal reason for doing it, that if I was in a wheelchair and needed services, this would help,” she said. “But now it’s more about how lucky I am, that I can still do this.”
Avid cyclist Mark Bazerman didn’t know anyone with MS when he took part in his first ride 20 years ago.
It became tradition —Bazerman hasn’t missed an event since, and through fundraising, met many people who suffer from the chronic disease.
About 700 cyclists like Leroux and Bazerman rode from Ottawa to Kemptville and back for the 20th annual Rona MS Bike Tour over the weekend.
This event is shaping up to be the best ever, said MS Society of Canada chapter resource co-ordinator Nadene Lee.
“We’re optimistic we’ll hit the $500,000 mark this year,” Lee said.
Thanks to events like the ride and each spring’s Walk for MS, researchers are making “incredible advances here in Canada,” said Dr. Mark Freedman, an event participant and director of the Ottawa Hospital MS Clinic.
“Canada is leading the world in research, and it depends on events like this,” Freedman said.