This blog post will be a bit of a departure from the usual for me but I really want to help a good friend reach a goal! I met John almost a decade ago when I was working at a church that we both attended. Back then, John volunteered his time every week creating beautiful audio/visual presentations for the church services on Sunday. The thing that first struck me about him was his sense of humor. He was always ready with a quick one-liner or funny anecdote. John and I eventually started working together and I saw first hand his passion and dedication to whatever he was working on. I would always look forward to seeing his smiling face when he arrived at the office, the inevitable giant cup of iced tea in his hand. He was always busy but never too busy to listen and share a joke. While those particular days are over, we still get together for lunch when we can to catch up with each other. If you spend just a few minutes with John, it quickly becomes evident that his family and friends mean the world to him. He has such a positive outlook on life and that is inspiring. He is unfailingly supportive and so it’s no surprise that he is now dedicated to raising funds for awareness and research for multiple sclerosis. In his own words:
“This will be my sixth year to participate in a Bike MS event and I could simply say that I ride for a family member or friend but the story has more depth. I took up biking in 2010 after my knees told me that my running days were over. In the beginning, I abhorred cycling. But I had just enough stick-to-itiveness within me to finally find the joy of riding. I had an old Wal-Mart million-pound bike that I borrowed from my son. I rode round and round the neighborhood until I had the courage to venture out a few miles from home. Every day the miles increased and so did the desire to ride more and more.
On September 10, 2011, I participated in my first organized ride, the Cowtown Classic in Fort Worth, Texas. I chose the 45-mile route and felt like a champion. I actually cried with pure joy and happiness at the first rest stop: this was the coolest thing I had ever done. I was hooked. Thus, began my search for more rides with more miles. I continued training and since I rode the same routes around Albuquerque day after day, I wanted to see some new horizons. I read in a bike magazine about a ride that was held in all 50 states and the next scheduled one was in May of 2011, starting in Monmouth NJ and traveling the ocean front ending in Cape May, the southern tip of NJ. Two days, 180 miles, ocean, and 1,200 strangers that I had never ridden with before – welcome to my first Bike MS Coast the Coast!
To me, the ride was an organized event, rest stops every 10-12 miles, dinner Saturday night, and some comradery among the cyclists. At that point, there was no established connection between the event and its purpose. Multiple sclerosis was just another cause for which money was being raised. I was after the bike ride experience. And goodness did the experience sneak up on me. If I can pinpoint a single item that changed my thinking, it was not the biking. Instead, it was the people. I began to meet person after person whose life or family was affected by MS. The conversations were amazing. The stories grabbed me like none other. I had been hooked again; not by cycling, but by the MS Movement!
We were riding not only for fundraising for research and services, but for awareness of the impact that MS can have on an individual, their families, their work, and their life. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. Then came the next awakening back home: I had friends that had MS. While I knew the name of the disease, I knew little else. Suddenly my eyes were opened to whole new world of the impact that MS had on people that were personal friends of mine.
Six months later I traveled to Cherry Hill, New Jersey to ride in the City to Shore along with 7,000 of my closest friends. And every year since, I have completed two Bike MS rides per year. I have ridden thousands of training miles for these rides to bring awareness of those living with MS, and fundraise in support of programs, and research and development. Support for my riding is incredibly important to me. Everyone’s financial generosity makes a big difference to all those whose lives are affected by MS. Together we’re making a better world for them.”
As someone who suffers from a chronic illness myself, I am grateful for the people who support and encourage others with a devastating disease. I know without a doubt that if the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation had a bike ride to raise funds for research, John would be out there riding for me. During one of our lunches recently, we were talking about the twists and turns life takes at times and he mentioned a favorite quote from the movie, Gumball Rally. Raul Julia, playing the Italian driver, Franco, is about to embark on the race when he rips off the rear-view mirror in his car and throws it away. He then says,
“What’s behind me is not important.”
Words to live by indeed. Don’t dwell on the past. Keep moving forward!
John has already done a number of bike rides for MS and his enthusiasm has not waned. He is currently in training to do the Pedal los Pueblos ride on August 26 & 27 which traverses more than 150 miles in northern New Mexico. 150 miles! If you would like to help John reach his goal, please visit his fundraising page: Bike MS Fundraising Page for John Turney
Of course, the donation would be tax-deductible, but more importantly, you would be supporting a great cause! MS affects millions of people. Let’s help in finding a cure.
You can also follow John on Facebook: John Turney Bike Adventures
Godspeed on your upcoming ride, John!
I know you will give it your all!