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Snowmobile tour helps raise awareness for multiple sclerosis

Although he does not have multiple sclerosis, for 29 years Randy Murdock of Warrens has participated in the MS Snowmobile Tour.

Initially Murdock got involved with the tour not because he has multiple sclerosis, but because he wanted to go snowmobiling.

“I got involved, I guess, because I just wanted to go snowmobiling and saw their booth at a snowmobile show and thought it would be a good idea to go riding for,” Murdock said. “I guess I was greedy and took advantage of what they had to offer.”

After attending for multiple years and eventually leading the tour himself, his reasons chanas defined by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as “an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body.”

“Just seeing the love and devotion his family had toward him that day − he changed the reason why I ride,” Murdock said

January marked the 32nd year of the tour, which was held in Lac du Flambeau. The ride is a two-day guided tour of about 120 miles a day with scheduled stops. There is a $45 registration fee, and then participants need to raise $650 in pledges and sponsorships, the minimum, to pay for meals and the hotel stay.

The pledges and sponsorships are now just a single donation but used to be by mile, Murdock said.

Marty Iverson, tour co-chair and trail master, said that the money raised from the fees, pledges and sponsorships are used for more than MS research.

“The funds that we raise go toward the programs such as research, scholarship programs, advocacy,” Iverson said.

As of the Jan. 24 tour banquet, $230,000 was raised by 125 riders, Iverson said.

Iverson and his family have been involved with the tour for 23 years after reading an article about the tour and learning his mother-in-law had MS. He said he hasn’t looked back since. He enjoys the camaraderie of the event and the effort that is put in to it.

“My motto is it’s a fun ride for a great cause. It really sheds light that there are individuals who don’t know a whole lot about MS and want to learn,” Iverson said. “It’s a way to meet a whole lot of individuals who care so much about the event that they come back year after year.”

Marty Schmidt, who helps organize the tour, shares a similar story to Iverson. He began because of a family member and continued to be a part of the tour after their death because of what it does for those with MS.

“I got involved in 1992 when I got a call from my wife’s uncle, Uncle Jack, and he wanted me to go on the snowmobile tour with him. We did the tour, he was actually a lot of work, high maintenance, I did a lot for him. I thought for a guy in his 50s he seems to need a lot of care,” Schmidt said. “The next year he went to the doctor and he found out he had MS.”

Jack was an avid fundraiser for 20 years, raising money for MS and other causes. Now for Jack, Schmidt and his family have made a commitment to stick to raising money and awareness for MS until there is a cure.

“It’s one of those things that even though he’s gone, we know what it does to families,” Schmidt said. “We see moms with little kids (on the tour) with MS and know what they’ll be facing in the coming years. It pulls on the heartstrings, and you want to do something about it. We decided we’re going to keeping doing it until we figure it out.”

Schmidt said that the reason he and others like Murdock and Iverson participate is because of the hope that it brings to those who suffer from MS.

“I remember a girl sitting across from me (on the tour) and just in tears, I asked what’s the matter? She said, ‘I just can’t believe all of you guys are here to solve my problem.’ None of us had MS,” Schmidt recalled. “So much hope for them − we need to be out there where we’re visible. It gives them hope that there are people out there to solve their problem.”

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by LACROSSETRIBUNE
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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