When Steve Schade was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007, his family rallied around him without hesitation and started helping raise money in search of a cure.
Just 34 years old at the time, the Highlands Ranch man used to enjoy his summer evenings playing softball. He began to have difficulty seeing the ball coming at him and suddenly could no longer see colors vividly. Things were almost gray scale, he said. About the same time he also began to feel numbness in his feet and knees.
“It felt like my legs were falling asleep,” he said. “I thought it was a circulation issue, that I had a pinched nerve. It wasn’t apparent at all times, but was very gradual.”
With no specific diagnosis process available for multiple sclerosis, Schade underwent a year’s worth of tests, up to and including spinal taps, before receiving a “probable MS diagnosis” and beginning treatment. He has been on numerous drugs and steroids over the past six years, and does everything he can to stay sharp and active.
Since the summer of 2008, one of the ways he has stayed active is by participating in the local Bike MS ride each year. Accompanied by a team of family members and friends, riding under the moniker of “Stevie’s Wonders,” he has raised more than $25,000 to go toward research of a disease that to this day has no known cure.
This year, while eight members of Stevie’s Wonders pedaled 150 miles from Westminster to Fort Collins and back June 29 and 30, Schade rode the 75-mile jaunt on day one as an honorary member of NOW (No Opportunity Wasted) Novartis, teaming up on a tandem bicycle with professional cyclist Olivia Dillon.
The NOW Novartis team is pedaling with different honorary members at five of the 100 Bike MS rides around the country this summer, with a mission of showing that MS does not have to define or limit the more than 400,000 Americans who have the disease. At the Colorado ride, they were part of the 3,000-plus cyclists who helped to raise a total of $2,795,595, according to Karen Malone with Novartis Pharmaceuticals.
In addition to raising money for research and to help those with the disease, Schade said the rides do a lot more for those battling MS.
“Being around other people who are affected by the same thing is a great boost,” he said. “Not a lot of people in my inner circle really understand what I am going through, so it is a really positive thing to have that sense of community and see other people who have had it 10, 15, 30 years.
“You hear a lot about how devastating (MS) is and how difficult it is on people, but it really doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Within the last five to 10 years, medications and therapies have come so far and things are continuously getting better.”