DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. -- Like any good athlete and competitor, Dobbs Ferry's Caitlin Krueger enjoys a good challenge. So, when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a year ago, Krueger took up the fight.
This Sunday, Oct. 6, Kruger will join nearly 5,000 people from the tristate area who will bike up to 100 miles as part of "Bike MS: NYC an event to raise money for support programs, services and research sponsored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"This is my first Bike MS event," said Krueger who is originally from nearby Cortlandt Manor.. "I was in a 5K in Coral Gables in April where I ran much of the race with family members and really enjoyed the experience. I'll be going for the 30-mile ride to start off."
Riders have the option to choose their challenge during "Bike MS and participate in a 30-mile ride around Manhattan, or longer 55 or 100 mile rides through the Holland Tunnel and into New Jersey, before finishing back at Pier 92/94 in Manhattan.
A former softball player at Hendrick Hudson High School and at Mercy College, Krueger, who now works at Mercy as a Director of Special Events and Major Gifts Officer, is a big New York Giants fan and physical fitness advocate. That background as a competitor and a strong family support group has Krueger on a bike instead of in a lounge chair.
"My parents raised me to always face any of life's speed bumps head on, so this is no different," Krueger said. "They were with me every step of the way and the minute I was diagnosed the first question was 'okay what do we do now' and lets try to get out in front of it and be proactive instead of reactive. And we handle everything with humor where appropriate. When you have that approach, you feel empowered instead of having the feeling you are not in control."
This year for the first time ever, riders with MS will be provided extra support during the event through a program called “I Ride with MS,” a bike series designed specifically to empower cyclists with MS by providing visibility and support tailored to their needs.
As many people with MS experience a temporary worsening of their symptoms when the weather is very hot or humid, or they get overheated from exercise, the program will provide body-cooling neck wraps for these riders to use throughout their journeys as well as special jerseys that identify them as “I Ride with MS” participants. “I Ride with MS” is supported by Genzyme.
Krueger said participating in events like "Bike MS" helps raises awareness and funding, especially for those who may not understand what living with Multiple Sclerosis involves.
"One of my No. 1 things in life is to be as transparent as possible, so the minute I was going through the diagnosis I was very open with my friends and my employer about," she said. "That has served me very well. That may not be right way for everyone, but for me the transparency gas helped me a lot."
Because she is physically fit, Krueger, who is early on in the course of the disease, has not experienced any major problems living her normal life. She takes spin classes, runs in the mornings and does kick boxing to stay fit. she is renting a bicycle for the MS event but hopes to add cycling to her fitness regimen.
"It's going to be exciting to meet up with friends, be together for the bike ride and see of we can get the Giants a win afterwards," Krueger said. "I'm trying to stay active and always positive."
According to the National MS Foundation, approximately 400,000 people in the U.S. and living with MS, with no cases being exactly the same. One person is newly diagnosed with MS every hour, bringing the worldwide total to approximately 2.1 million.
The average onset of MS is 29 years and women are 2-3 times more likely to get MS than men.
Symptoms include fatigue, numbness, balance and coordination issues, loss of vision, bladder problems, abnormal speech, temporary paralysis and more