Kelsey-Seybold Joins Battalion of Cyclists In Fight Against Multiple Sclerosis
Houston (May 1, 2008) - On a breezy Spring weekend in April, Team Kelsey-Seybold rode with more than 13,000 cyclists for the 2008 BP MS 150 to help raise millions of dollars to fund the battle against multiple sclerosis.
Thanks to the collaborative efforts of two energetic captains, Mark Lamendola, a sales manager with Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, and Mark LeBlanc, principal of The WellFit Group, the newly-formed Team Kelsey-Seybold rode more than 150 miles from Houston to Austin over the course of two days.
Most of the 2008 Team Kelsey-Seybold riders were rookies, who had never ridden more than two hours let alone two days. Thankfully, both captains and a couple of teammates were well experienced either as MS 150 veterans or triathletes, and encouraged each of us. MS 150 veteran Tom Arnold finishes the ride every year, and for many, he's an inspiration to finish.
At the Starting Line
Together, the team headed onto the road from Rhodes Stadium on a brisk Saturday morning and rode to Bellville for the midday lunch stop on Day 1. Mark Lamendola worked avidly to keep the group together, spinning a pace line.
The Tough Get Going
Every two or three miles along the ride, signs are posted with encouraging and humorous statements. These signs remind every rider to keep pushing ahead, that the ride is worth every effort and it won't be long before the finish line appears.
By mid-afternoon, many team members made it into LaGrange for the night; while others finished just before dusk. By sunset, all were accounted for and enjoying a much-earned barbeque chicken dinner. Surprisingly enough, at 4:30 the next morning, we all awoke to do it all over again, but this time with our sights set on Austin.
A Trip for the Senses
As dawn breaks on Day 2, waves of wildflowers crest against lush rolling hills and reflect the warm golden rays of mid-April sun. A steady breeze whips past and cools perspiration as it collects along the upper lip. The crisp morning air invigorates and sets the mood for the day ahead.
Some say character cannot be defined or built - only revealed, and the Day 2 routes seemed to have been designed with such a purpose in mind. Each of the 10 members of Team Kelsey-Seybold borrowed and shared from one another's positive encouragement and cycling strengths when physical challenge threatened to overwhelm will power.
The most powerful experience about the whole ride is the sense of camaraderie that everyone shares while riding the MS 150. As riders from other teams rested at the tops of various hills, everyone who passed by asked if help was needed. Clearly, everyone who passed by had been there themselves at one point or another.
Feeling Like an Olympian
By the end of Day 2, many of us experienced an Olympic-like moment as we crossed the finish line. As we rounded corners in downtown Austin, hundreds of people lined the streets with cowbells, signs and cheers. Team Kelsey-Seybold members enjoyed a sense of achievement from overcoming the challenges of the event and a sense of pride from riding with our friends, colleagues, teammates and thousands of others for such a worthy cause.
"The effort required was reflective of the team members," said Mark Lamendola. "To finish this very difficult ride, each member displayed dedication, strong work ethics and self sacrifice as we helped each other through the ride. These traits allowed us to finish and it is these traits that we display here at work daily."
"When I was first asked to participate, I was very intimidated by the thought of riding a bicycle 150 miles over the course of two days," said Marnie Matheny, president, KelseyCare Advantage. "I talked with several people who had participated in the event several times - they were all so enthusiastic about the event and assured me that you don't have to be Lance Armstrong to make it to Austin." They were right - we all made it to Austin, nobody named Lance was on our team and we had a lot of fun getting there!
"I enjoyed spending the weekend with my Kelsey-Seybold colleagues cycling to Austin," said Kenneth Janis, vice president of Finance. "What a great experience for a worthy cause. I look forward to next year's ride. "I hope we can double our team to 20 riders."
"The final result is that this event pulled a group of people together who understand what it means to be a team," Lamendola said. "We hope all will experience this."
Special thanks to all of those who made donations to the 2008 BP MS 150 in support of Team Kelsey-Seybold.