MARSHALL - The decision to take part in the Bike MS TRAM event was a personal one for Tom Caron. His wife, Lori, has been living with multiple sclerosis since 1980, and Caron also had an uncle who battled the disease that affects the central nervous system and disrupts the flow of information to, from and within the brain.
"We started our team in 2006," Caron said. "It was the same year that my uncle who had MS died."
Caron's team goes by the name The Southwest Loonies, "after the bird," Caron said. "We have loons on our helmets."
Photo by Anna Haecherl-Smith
Tom Caron, whose wife, Lori, has multiple sclerosis, will be one of hundreds of participants in this year’s MS TRAM ride. Tom Caron’s uncle also battled the disease. TRAM riders will arrive in Marshall on Monday and spend the night.
The almost week-long journey, from July 13-18, will take cyclists roughly 290 miles from Pipestone to Welch Village with stops in Marshall, Redwood Falls, St. Peter and New Prague. Funds raised from the ride will help support programs and services provided by the National MS Society as well as research into the cause, treatments and a cure for MS.
"Personally, it's a week for me to kind of experience what they do everyday," Caron said. "The challenges they have and the struggles they go through. It's our one week to raise money for MS awareness and support."
The Bike MS TRAM isn't the only riding that Caron does.
"I also do different sponsored rides throughout Minnesota, probably five or six a year," he said.
"This year I've also been doing a lot of cycle training at the Y," Caron said, "and I do some riding outside as well."
"It kind of gets into your blood," Caron's wife Lori said of her husband's bike riding habit.
Lori Caron and the spouses of other teammates also participate in the TRAM by following the riders in a support vehicle and pulling a trailer with the riders' gear to the various rest stops throughout the route.
"It's like a big family," Lori Caron said. "Everyone comes together and supports each other."
Caron's daughters, Chelsea and Kaylin, have also ridden as part of his team "when their schedules allow it," Caron said.
The ride starts Monday in Pipestone and will bring the TRAM participants to Marshall by Monday night. The teams will meet at Independence Park and "there's a big welcoming committee and there are programs in the evening with speakers," Caron said.
Donations are also still being accepted for the Bike MS TRAM. Caron said interested parties can go to bikems.org and donate by participant name or team name.
Caron said he plans to continue participating in the ride "for as long as I'm able. We'll continue to raise support and awareness and provide education to those who are newly diagnosed."