Shane Merz, 25-year supporter of the National MS Society, shares the story of why he rides.
“Make no mistake, a cause finds you,” explains Shane Merz, a 25-year participant of the MS 150. “When MS (multiple sclerosis) selected me, I didn’t have a choice in it, but it was up to me to answer the call.”

Shane’s mom, Dr. Mary Ann Merz, was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis in 1986. It was a tough diagnosis for the family, but they jumped into action to adjust their lives and get her the resources she needed.

In the 1980’s, accessible transportation was impossible without getting a custom-built van. He quickly learned the roof of a van needed to be raised to accommodate a wheelchair, the body would need to be lowered, and hydraulics installed to lift/lower the floor. Shane worked with a company that specialized in custom vans and realized the expense was not manageable for most families, so he purchased a van for his mom and purchased and donated a second van to the local MS Society, which he continues to support today.

 

She couldn’t drive. If I wanted to take her anywhere, including her appointments, I needed to find an accessible solution.

Mary Ann Merz

Dr. Mary Ann Merz

As a lifelong educator, Dr. Mary Ann Merz had a keen ability to identify and cultivate an individual’s potential. She was a lecturer and then a professor at the University of Oklahoma from 1969 to 1984. In 1984, Dr. Merz accepted a newly-created position as Professor of Developmental Studies and Supervisor of the pioneering Communications Laboratory at Oklahoma City Community College, retiring in 2002. Mary Ann had a huge impact to MRE’s beginnings, recruiting some of our very first hires.

 

 

After Shane’s mother passed away in 2002, he became more involved with the MS Society. He participates in the annual ride to support the Society but also to honor Mary Ann. “As I’ve gotten older, I ride slower and take in more of the scenery. I try to connect with the other people who are involved,” adding that with her birthday being May 12, just after the annual race, “it’s a good time to remember Mom.”

 

It's a good time to remember Mom.

He acknowledges that while others may not relate to MS the way he can, he believes that people should seek acts of service that speak to them. For example, when friends donate, he generously matches their donations (sometimes 3-to-1!) to show his appreciation for their support of his participation and his cause.

 

Four MRE Employees on mountain bikes

Team MRE Rides Together

Mike Short, co-founder of MRE, is an avid cyclist and friend who trained for the MS150 with Shane. One of their first century rides was the 100-mile Hotter’N Hell in Wichita Falls. They parked among hundreds of cars for the race. Shane stopped at every single rest stop, and they were the last people out on the course. When they rode over to the parking area, theirs was the last car left. “That was a long day. Mike was very patient,” Shane chuckled. They still cycle together today, but that first ride is like a distant memory for the competitive cyclist who now bikes thousands of miles a year.

One tradition for MS 150 riders is to wear a bandana or tie one to their seat post. The bandanas are provided by the MS Society and are signed with a note from someone with MS to connect riders to the lives they are working to improve. Shane rides with a bandana embroidered with a poem that his mom liked. It is a way to remember, cherish, and honor her.

Shane, like many other competitors, has had periods where he had been ill or out of shape during the last twenty-five years, but he has never missed a ride. In fact, he’s gone on to participate in MS 150 rides all over the country, including San Francisco, Colorado, and his home state of Oklahoma.

 

Bike MS

National MS Society

The National MS Society funds research to find a cure for the disease. In addition, it provides counseling and many resources for families impacted by MS. At the personal level, the Society is involved in providing daily help, such as accessible transportation to enable people to get to their appointments. While MS is rare in children, the illness still strikes the young as well.  To support them, the Houston chapter runs an annual camp for kids with MS.

For Shane, MS found him, and he answered the call. If a cause hasn’t found you yet, consider Bike MS. If you’ve never ridden before, set a goal that works for you. Make this your own ride. Everyone will cheer you on and support you.

Come out and join the MRE Bike MS Team for a great cause.

 

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