Beginning April 29, Chisolm and Reed will both partake in the BP MS 150 bike ride. The annual ride is the largest fundraising bike ride in North America with more than 12,000 cyclists, 3,500 volunteers and countless spectators along the route. The two-day, 180-mile journey will take place April 29-30, beginning in Houston and ending in front of the state capitol in Austin.
BP’s annual trek provides an opportunity for those living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and those who care about them to connect, join together, be inspired and raise critical funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
A family affair
Reed and his brother have always shared a special bond. Coming from a split home, Reed has always looked to his brother for guidance. He even seemed to follow in his older brother’s footsteps, from playing the same sports growing up to obtaining an engineering degree and moving to Houston just a few short years ago.
“From that perspective, my brother was a huge influence on me, not only as a sibling but also as a role model and someone to look up to and take care of me,” he said. “We had our rough spots, but growing up I always had someone to look up to and found myself following in his footsteps. He’s always been a big part of my life. We lived together in college, and we’ve gone through a lot together.”
Soon after his brother’s graduation, however, that bond would be put to the ultimate test.
“He first started noticing it when he was working out or playing flag football—he couldn’t see anything or everything went blurry. He couldn’t catch a football—it’d be three feet from where he’s trying to grab it,” Reed said— a notable development for someone who had played Division I football at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Following a series of visits to various doctors and neurologists, the bomb was finally dropped.
“I didn’t know what it meant to have MS, and the more I began to learn about how disabling it could be, I couldn’t believe it,” Reed said. “You grow up with someone, and you have this vision that you’re always going to have that person there and they’re always going to be capable. He was always there to protect me and take care of me and guide me.”
Along with the role reversal of having to now be a rock for his brother, having the thought that the active brother he knew might be in a wheelchair one day brought Reed the thought of what the disease would do to his brother psychologically. Without his brother, Reed feels he wouldn’t be where he is today, which is why he then began helping him the only way he knew how.
This year will be his seventh time riding in the Houston to Austin bike ride, and the brothers will be cycling together on Team I-10 Connection in hopes of creating awareness and driving fundraising that will one day lead to a cure to this disease that has impacted the Reeds significantly.
“The most rewarding part is the additional comradery it has brought to my brother and I. Every year we have more people come in, and it’s close friends and family, so it’s a close-knit group,” he said. “It’s great to have that tradition, and more than that it’s helping to raise money for a great cause that I have personal interest in with my brother.”
A perfect fit
“You’ve got to train up for it and put your own personal skin in the game, but it’s a very successful fundraiser for a good cause, and you know you’re making a difference,” said Tim Chisolm, who first learned about Multiple Sclerosis when two family friends (a married couple) were both stricken with the disease within a five-year period.
Without a knowledge of the disease to speak of, however, options for the avid biker to help were limited—or so he thought. All these years later, the stars aligned as Chisolm saw the advancements progressing and his friends beginning to heal, and wasted no time jumping on bandwagon and off the sidelines for the first time in 2009.
“It just looked like a perfect fit of taking on an activity that was good for me physically, and also a way to give back to people affected by MS, since I knew people who were,” he said. “As I look at what’s been going on, treatments are making lives better and helping them live a higher quality life for longer. You see the end in sight with what a great cause this is.”
Chisolm will set out on this year’s BP MS 150 with Team Hess April 29 alongside co-workers and friends, eagerly awaiting an inspiration he said is old hat, yet still takes him aback each time.
“When you see people who actually have MS riding and the parade lines where you’re riding with their family and friends rooting them on, you know that you’re a part of something much bigger,” he said. “You can see that they truly appreciate it. It’s awesome to see that direct connection to helping and seeing the appreciation as you go along.”
This year, the MS Society aims to raise $16 million to bring hope to many who are affected by MS. And though one would think 180 miles on a bike would take its toll on even the most conditioned riders, the ride seems to finish before riders know what hit them—and Reed has no plans to quit anytime soon if he can help it.
“As long as I’m capable of pedaling a bike I’m planning to continue doing it,” he said. “I’ve been surprised how fast the ride goes because of the support and seeing people with much bigger challenges who are participating in it,” Chisolm added. “That makes it a much shorter ride than I ever anticipated it would have been.”