HOUSTON - Whether it would have been their first ride or their fifth, many were disappointed about the cancellation of the MS 150 which draws around 10,000 bikes to Houston streets every year.
Although the Multiple Sclerosis Society had to postpone its biggest fundraiser, they've scheduled a new date and with shorter rides, even more bikers could be eligible to participate.
The MS 150 usually raises about $14 million every year for research and to help people living with MS.
After delivering her third child more than 30 years ago, Lisa Sailor started showing symptoms.
“I started having some fatigue, and I was going being treated for my vision problems. About a year [later], that's when they started mentioning MS,” says Sailor.
She says research has come a long way since then, but the uncertainty people feel during the spread of COVID-19 continues to be a daily problem for people with the disease.
“Honestly, you never know from one day to the next with MS what's not going to work,” she says.
Many things have been put on hold because of the virus, but the needs for those with MS have not.“
There's certainly a lot of concern about whether or not they are more susceptible based on the drug they're taking,” explains Linda Bates, South Central President of the National MS Society.
“Then [there is] an increased sense of isolation because many people that are living with MS
have been isolated for a very long time and are taking social distancing even further than maybe the average person would be doing to protect themselves.”
Lisa says she’s only left her home four times in the past 11 weeks.
People with MS also haven't been immune from job loss.
The National MS Society has made a COVID-19 relief fund to give much needed financial support which includes helping pay bills and paying for grocery deliveries.
They've added live Facebook events with neurologists and virtual emotional help, all while cancelling spring fundraisers, including walks, luncheons, and the MS 150.
“We had to take pretty drastic measures in order to be able to continue to serve people as an organization,” says Bates.
Without the MS 150 and other events, the organization expects to be down $60 million by the fall.
They've postponed the bike ride fundraiser to September, hoping by then to be clear of COVID-19.
“It will eventually go away- at some point, hopefully a lot sooner than later,” says Sailor. “But MS will still be around.”
Lisa held her own virtual fundraiser ride at the beginning of May, switching 150 outdoor miles for 150 feet in her condo.
Like so many others shut in with MS, she can't wait to get back in the saddle for the in-person event, hoping plenty will show up and meet her at the starting line.
The two-day event has been shortened to one day and is scheduled for September 26.
Instead of 150 miles, there are 27, 41, and 60-mile options.
The start and finish will take place at Texas A&M University where the finish line was originally set for May.
Visit nationalmssociety.org to register and/or donate and help their COVID-19 response.