Folks,

First let me say thank you. Thank you for tuning in for what were occassional updates. Thank you for your great comments and encouragement. Thank you for your support, both financial and emotional, along the journey to another GREAT BikeMS event.

The 2010 Sam’s Club BikeMS ride was a success! I’m continually amazed at the hard working team and volunteers at the MS Society who make the actually riding the only thing to “worry” about. I love the event and have a great time catching up with old MS buddies, riding with my brother in law and his brother, and seeing parts of North Texas that I would otherwise miss. The weather held out and offered amazing ride conditions. I’m so glad I was able to participate in yet another wonderful, well supported BikeMS ride. I felt great as I crossed both finish lines and had a chance to exchange high 5’s and congrats to those I knew and met along the way.

So what’s next you ask? Well, a lot! About 1/2 way through my preparation for the 2010 ride we were made aware of an amazing opportunity for my wonderful wife’s MS. A long time family friend of my wife Sam Harrell contacted Andrea to fill her in on the latest in his battle with MS. After a conversation about what he’s doing and how he wants to pay it forward, we were on fire about exploring this opportunity further.

The “opportunity” is to head south to Central America to get adult stem cell therapy for Andrea’s MS. While this is not a “new” treatment for chronic conditions like MS, ALS, or Parkinsons, it is a relatively new weapon in the arsenal receiving more and more attention. Sam and many others have decided to take up arms against this frustrating disease by heading to San Jose, Costa Rica to one of a few well established and notable facilities, the Institute for Cellular Medicine.

Since learning about this treatment option, we have frantically done our fair amount of research and have found numerous accounts of MS patients coming back with various levels of success. One such patient is Preston Walker, Ft Worth police Sergent who went in the summer of 2008 and blogged all along the way and afterwards. His results are fairly typical of the accounts we’ve found and we were SOLD!

We quickly socialized our desire to raise the nearly $40,000 (treatment, travel, expenses for Andrea & I) and they rallied way beyond our expectations. Within weeks, we had a way to collect funds (through Andrea’s home church), at least three fundraisers planned, and an American Airlines employee offer to take care of our air travel. We are truly blessed to have a very supportive and loving support system who are willing to add one more thing to their lives to help us out.

So here’s what’s coming up:

1. Spaghetti supper at Andrea’s Preschool Heritage Christian Preschool where they raised $1,750! This blew our minds considering the cost to the attendees was a mere $3.50 which means many folks donated above and beyond the minimum. Thank you HCP and Heritage Church of Christ!

2. A hamburger supper in Brownwood, TX on May 19th through Andrea’s home church Austin Avenue Church of Christ

3. A variety/talent show at our church, Grapevine Church of Christ. The date is TBD but should be within the next month or so.

And many more are rumored. I’m considering the kids triathlon I mentioned in an earlier post. I’m targeting late summer once kids are back in school but the other details are TBD. Andrea’s girlfriends are discussing a 5k sometime soon and I think it’s a great idea.

Please stay tuned for more info in the coming days. I’m busy evaluating the easiest and most convenient platform for setting up an online hub (wordpress, posterous, etc) where we can share info, accept donations, etc as well as finalizing my research to get a better sense of exact costs associated with this adventure.

Interested in learning more? Here’s a few links that are worth checking out:

Website for facility in South America (2 locations)

Blog of Preston Walker (via StarTelegram.com)

Video of WFAA (ch8 in DFW) news story

Blog/website for patient who went in 2004

One of many great articles describing the treatment and controversy

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