To inspire, have courage, keep hope alive. All of these are traits of winners, those who are leading the way, showing us all how it’s done, overcoming obstacles and helping in any way they can to be change makers. These are their stories, in my words… The Sunday Series.
The Sunday Series (28): Wheels of Giving
Ten years, thousands of miles, and to think it all began one day at lunch.
“There’s a group at my office, (GP Strategies), that rides”, says Jill Eisenberg, “and I had not been on a bike since age 12 or 13. My co-workers ride at lunchtime, I just started riding with them.” And once the wheels started turning, Jill learned she couldn’t be stopped. Working as a graphic designer, Jill quickly learned that riding became a great way to break up the day. “It’s fun to put in saddle time”, says Jill. “Lunchtime is usually 12-15 miles. Bike riding is extremely relaxing, by myself or with a group, it’s a great way to clear my head. Sometimes someone might ask me for an idea and I go out and ride and think about it.”
The daily rides got Jill thinking about bigger and better things, about challenging herself to do more, ride more, farther, faster and break through barriers. She did several bigger rides, including a 100-mile ride with a team from work, in an event called Seagull Century. Then Jill learned about a ride for Multiple Sclerosis. 100-miles one day, 50-miles the next through Maryland’s beautiful eastern shore. At first Jill saw the event and the ride as simply another challenge to take on, a shot at proving to herself she had the stamina and discipline to get it done. But as she learned more about MS and met some of the participants, everything changed.
Multiple Sclerosis, commonly referred to as MS, is a disease that affects the central nervous system, (CNS), and everything we do relies on the proper function of this central nervous system. But with MS, immune cells violate the connections of the CNS creating dysfunction, which can be mild, moderate or severe. There is no cure, only treatment…but events like Bike MS, are going a long way to improve those treatments, with people like Jill and thousands of others leading the charge. (http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS/Definition-of-MS)
And it was on one of these rides about four years ago that Jill met Mike. Mike was diagnosed with MS in his early 30’s and was taking part in Bike MS. Jill was on the 100-mile route of the race when she came upon Mike. The two started talking and Jill realized he would need some encouragement to make it to the finish line, for the race leg he had chosen was not the 100-mile course, but a 65-mile trek. Jill stayed with Mike for every pedal the rest of the way and Mike told Jill his whole story of dealing with the disease. The two finished the 65-mile race together, and a new friendship blossomed.
Inspired by Jill and her dedication to cycling, the next year Mike said he wanted to tackle the 100-mile ride. The temperature for the ride that year, at 95 degrees, presented a significant challenge to both of them, especially Mike. Jill says every 10-miles she would ask him how he felt. Despite the heat and fatigue, Mike said he could make it. Slowly, methodically, the two pedaled together and reached the finish line, one of the final participants to cross, but it hardly mattered, a major obstacle had been overcome. And every year since then Mike has finished the 100 mile course.
Events like the Bike MS are literally changing the lives of those battling the disease. Over the past decade Jill says she has witnessed tremendous strides in the research and treatments, some of it funded with the money raised by events like Bike MS. “The money we raise in Maryland is really doing great things”, says Jill. “In the last ten years it, (treatments), have gone from daily shots to oral medications, so the person with MS can now take a pill with less side effects. MS affects things we don’t think about, that we take for granted and the money raised is also funding more research, funding services for people who need assistance, ride shares, new beds and more.” The drugs to treat MS can be expensive and not all is covered by insurance, events like Bike MS seek to alleviate the financial burden as well.
And Jill is a leader among those raising dollars to fight for those afflicted. Over the past ten years, Jill and her team, which now stands at 35 participants, have raised more than $20,000. In 2011, Jill was named Volunteer of the Year for the Maryland MS Chapter. It’s all about going above and beyond what is expected, put the extra in front of ordinary to become extraordinary. Jill has found a cause she loves and does so by pouring her heart into it every year. “I know that I am extremely fortunate”, says Jill. “I have good health, a healthy family, and because I’m healthy and I am able to give back, I should.”
It takes each of us to make a difference for all of us. Jill Eisenberg is learning this first-hand as she and so many others help in the fight to create this world… a world free of MS and a world which is better because of those called to rise and make change happen. For Mike and countless others like him more than 100,000 riders are changing lives and transforming their own. Jill trains, riding a few times a week at lunch and longer rides on the weekends, just to prepare for the bigger races like Bike MS. It’s dedication and discipline. Taking small consistent steps to enact massive change. It’s an example for all of us to follow. Find your passion, what you love to do and use your ability and talent to change the lives of other people. This is the essence of significance.
You can play a significant part for Jill’s team as well, if you would like to donate, or even join the team, go to (http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/TeamDesignConnection), or (http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/jilleisenberg).
And to think how great change began with a simple break for lunch. A lunchtime ride, which turned into the ride of a lifetime.
Until next time thanks for taking the time,
Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Financial Services
The Book: It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story
#1 Best Seller on Amazon
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