More MS news articles for Nov 2001

MS Champions Complete Cross-Country Journeys; Cyclist and Horseman Cover 3,000+ Miles to Inspire People with Disabilities

Thu, Nov 01 9:02 AM EST

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Delbert Richardson, 48, from Wichita, KS, and Michael Muir, 49, from Woodland, CA, today finished parallel cross-country journeys in the nation's capital. Though they began separately, they share a common goal: to demonstrate that people with multiple sclerosis (MS)-or any disability-can overcome physically and emotionally demanding challenges.

Both Richardson, who traveled solo in a recumbent bicycle that resembled a little car, and Muir, who led a horsedrawn journey from a wheelchair carriage, have MS, a neurological disease that affects more than 350,000 Americans. In addition to combating their illness, each of them also found themselves battling the harshest of conditions: extreme temperatures, ranging from 20 degrees to well over 100 degrees; treacherous mountain roads; more than 50 flat tires and 200 worn horseshoes; getting lost in the desert without water; dangerous snakes; loneliness; death of a pet dog; losing control of the horses in the middle of a town, and countless other trials and tribulations. Yet, 3,000 miles later, each is poised to finish a journey that few Americans could imagine, let alone complete.

"We were determined not to let this disease or any other obstacle prevent us from reaching Washington, DC," says Delbert Richardson. "By finishing what we each set out to accomplish and celebrating in our nation's capital, we hope to show not only the potential of people with MS, but the potential of all of us in this country-disabled or not. It is really fitting to end our journey in our nation's capital."

A Dream Realized By This Olympic Torch Bearer

Diagnosed with MS in 1997, Delbert Richardson was discouraged when his symptoms made it difficult to perform many routine activities. Eventually he stopped driving his car and could no longer continue working in his field. The idea for a solo cross-country bike trip came to him in a dream shortly after his diagnosis in which he saw himself pedaling across America.

Inspired to turn his dream into reality, Richardson began planning a city-by-city route across the U.S. He started a rigorous training regimen, and researched everything from weather conditions, to necessary equipment, to safety. Richardson kicked off his journey in Seattle, in April, using a recumbent three-wheel cycle to ensure comfort for the 5,000-mile trek.

"The journey was both physically and mentally demanding," says Richardson, who lost 40 pounds during the trip. "From the mountains of the Pacific Northwest to the sheer torture of the Mojave desert -- no training on earth could have prepared me for what I would face. What got me through was the support and assistance from countless Americans -- most of them strangers."

After some much needed rest, Richardson will begin training again -- this time for his role as an Olympic Torchbearer. Richardson was one of the 11,500 Americans selected to carry the Olympic Flame as it travels across America. Richardson will carry the torch through Wichita in January 2002.

Wielding the Reins of Success

Michael Muir, a life-long horseman and the great-grandson of Sierra Club founder and naturalist John Muir, has had MS since age 15. Muir has never allowed his symptoms to slow him down. When his condition worsened, he refused to hang up the saddle, eventually teaching himself to drive teams of horses in competition. In search of ways to challenge himself, he announced his next mission: travel the United States in his custom-made carriage, pulled by a team of Stonewall Sporthorses he has bred since the age of 12. On January 30, that dream became a reality. Starting from Mission San Diego, CA, and accompanied by several other horsemen with disabilities, Muir began his 3,000-mile horsedrawn journey across America.

In addition to raising awareness about MS, the purpose of Muir's journey was to extend the reach of United States Driving for the Disabled, an organization dedicated to introducing people with disabilities to the sport of horsedrawn carriage driving. Muir is the newly elected president of the organization. While on the journey, he visited hospitals and gave rides in his wheelchair carriage.

"My goal is to show that disability and inability are not the same," says Muir. "We are setting out to change the lives of people with MS and other disabilities one person at a time by broadening their perspectives on what they can do and making them realize their lives can be full and rich."

Champions of Courage

Richardson's and Muir's missions were funded in part by Betaseron(R) Champions of Courage (, a program supported by Berlex Laboratories, Inc. that recognizes the accomplishments of people with MS and provides support for their inspirational activities.

"Delbert and Michael are incredibly impressive people who both had tough times, yet persevered to the end," commented Eric Simons, motivational speaker and chairman of the Betaseron(R) Champions of Courage program. "We are proud to celebrate their extraordinary achievements."

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that randomly attacks the central nervous system, affecting the brain and spinal cord, wearing away control over the body. Symptoms can include extreme fatigue, numbness of limbs, muscle spasms, difficulty walking, loss of balance, vision and speech problems and psychological changes. Though no cure yet exists, there are now therapies available that can impact underlying disease course as well as manage symptoms. MS affects more than a third of a million people in the U.S. alone, with someone being newly diagnosed virtually each hour.

©2001 At Home Corporation