Becky Kinney and her family have had the pall of multiple sclerosis (MS) hanging over them for decades.
But the Pemberton resident is pedalling hard to find a cure.
Before Kinney was born, her grandmother, Marian, was diagnosed with the disease, which is a long-term autoimmune disorder that attacks the central nervous system. She passed away when Kinney was still young. This weekend, July 14 and 15, Kinney will join roughly 120 fellow riders on the MS Ride as they cruise through the Fraser Valley while raising money for MS research.
While Kinney rides in her grandmother's honour, she also has her dad, Dave, on her mind as she pedals.
"I haven't known a life without someone I know having MS because (my grandmother) was diagnosed before I was born and (I have had) to watch the way it's affected my dad's life, as well as mine and my sister's," she said. "He didn't get to have his mom alongside him for a lot of the rest of his life.
"We didn't really get the same opportunity as a lot of people get to have our own relationship and have those bonding moments that you typically get with your grandparent. It hit her very quickly and very hard."
Last year, her push got an added boost when her father and her sister, Tamara, joined her on the ride.
"It's really special. It's been close to my heart and I know it's always been close to his," she said. "It was really special last year to have him be able to participate in the bike ride, to bike with me.
"My sister actually did it last year as well and it was really nice to be able to share it with them. It was good to get them out there and show them what it's all about. It's hard to put into words sometimes, so it's good to get people out there."
Since her first ride in 2014, Kinney has raised over $10,000 for MS research, hosting annual bottle drives and mimosa and mason jar bouquet fundraisers—dubbed Baskets, Bevys and Blooms—at the Pemberton Community Barn in order to further help. She has currently raised over $3,500 this year while her team has raised an additional $1,000.
"It's been going really well. I've been fundraising since about April so it's been going for a few months," she said. "It's crazy that it's already this weekend."
One of the most inspiring things for Kinney is that several riders themselves have MS. In fact, one of Kinney's friends, Tina Kaizer, has battled the disease for more than 20 years, and was the one who first invited her to participate in the fundraiser.
"She asked me if I would join her," Kinney recalled. "I didn't even hesitate. I definitely said yes right away.
"She does the bike (ride) herself. That was the most inspiring (thing) for me. She's also biking alongside many people that are also suffering and living with MS. Right away, once I was there, I realized how inspiring it was. There was no question about it that I was going to keep doing it every year."
Spots for this weekend are still available at http://mssoc.convio.net/site/TR/BikeTour/BCandYukonDivision?pg=entry&fr_id=5978. The ride, which has two-day routes ranging from 80 to 170 kilometres, begins and wraps at the Thunderbird Show Park.
Kinney's fundraising page is online at http://mssoc.convio.net/site/TR/BikeTour/BCandYukonDivision?px=1971359&pg=personal&fr_id=5978.