Tish Wise’s connection with multiple sclerosis may be peripheral, but it’s also very poignant.
In the early 1990s, she and her younger brother Glenn Peck had participated a few times in Louisiana’s MS Bike Tour 150. “He had completed it one year, and afterwards he said, ‘You need to do this with me,’” explains the comptroller of Pleasure Pools in Mandeville, La.
Then in 1995, Glenn suffered a fatal heart attack while playing basketball. He was only 31. There was no clue this was coming. “He was the picture of health — a non-smoker, physically active and very careful about his diet,” Wise says.
After that, Wise entertained no thoughts of riding. “I just put my bike away where I couldn’t see it,” she says.
But a couple of years ago, Wise felt the need to contribute more to others who are less fortunate while also remembering Glenn through action.
“I’d been thinking about him and how he always tried to be active in the community,” she says. “I just started feeling like I wanted to get back on my bike and ride, and do something for somebody else.”
That drive has resulted in a group activity at Pleasure Pools. Wise, along with most of the staff, including owner Charles Elfert, now participate in the bike run to raise money to help local MS sufferers.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic malady of the central nervous system that can lead to death. It is a progressive disease that mostly strikes women. And though there are a number of treatments that can help restore functioning after an attack, there is no cure for the condition.
Many MS sufferers have something in common with Wise’s brother — they tend to be young, often in their 20s and 30s.
“People are just starting their careers and families, and all of a sudden they’re struck with this debilitating disease,” Wise says.
The annual event to help eradicate the disease lasts two days. Riders begin at Southeastern University in Hammond, La., and ride 75 miles north to Mississippi’s Percy Quin State Park, where they stay overnight. The next day, they take the reverse route home.
Participants must raise at least $250 in order to enter, but for Team Pleasure Pools, Wise set a goal of $5,000. Last year, the first time the group entered, they came within $200 of that milestone.
Physical preparation for the ride can take months. The MS Foundation, which sponsors the event, begins official training runs three months in advance, starting with 30-mile rides and gradually increasing to 65 miles.
“You would think that the purpose of the [practice] rides is to get your legs ready, and to a certain degree that’s true,” Wise says. “But mostly it’s because when you’re on a bicycle, your shoulder joints and wrists are supporting the weight of your torso, and your sit bones are remaining on the saddle for many hours. That’s why you have to put in the practice hours on a bicycle, so that you can get through the day.”
Team Pleasure Pools begins practice rides before the official training starts, and they get together after work at least a couple days a week to ride some more. Nearly the whole staff, along with a relative and one subcontractor, have participated.