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Pennyjo's dream: Working toward a cure

Photo by Miriam Collom-Winters Some of the motorcycles from the 2009 run get ready to fulfill Pennyjo's dream.

She's bright, bubbly, full of life with a smile that stays with you forever. Her sparkling personality and love of life is contagious. To those that know her, she is an angel. She is Pennyjo, and she is living with MS.

Here's her story

Pennyjo began having signs of Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 29. At that time, she was a single mom of two children, ages 10 and 11, trying hard to work to support them. She was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and for nearly four years was told by doctors and specialists that it was "all in her head." Then finally, after seeing the third specialist, Pennyjo was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Though it is very difficult to accept the diagnosis, there was some relief in knowing what was causing all the pain; and it was a new beginning of a journey down a path of working towards a dream, she said.

Pennyjo had to give up her employment at 30 due to the chronic pain; having more bad days than good made it nearly impossible to keep a job. At 40, Pennyjo decided her new mission was to help work for a cure for MS -- a walk or a ride or something. Then she met and later married Steve "Red." And that's when the dream of working for a cure became a reality. One year later, Pennyjo and Red founded the "Motorcycling for Mobility" ride.

What is MS?

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease that affects the central nervous system. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, in which the immune system incorrectly attack's the body's healthy tissue. This process destroys myelin -- the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Myelin can be compared to the insulation on electrical wire; when the insulation is destroyed, the messages being sent through the nerves (or "wire") are slowed or blocked. This can cause blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, memory problems, poor concentration, paralysis, blindness and more. MS most often begins in people between the ages of 20 and 40, though it can occur at any age. Women are more likely to be affected than men.

Though some medications have been shown to slow or modify the effects of MS, there is no cure for the disease.

Motorcycling for Mobility

Motorcycling for Mobility is Pennyjo's dream. This year will be the second annual ride, raising funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Last year, 228 people with 173 motorcycles raised $3,000 (after expenses). Pennyjo's goal this year is "to beat last year!" The second annual Motorcycling for Mobility Ride will be held on Aug. 28. It will begin in Hewitt, and after a couple of stops along a 123-mile ride, will end in Hewitt, for an evening filled with fun events. This year's events include:

• A pre-ride luncheon

• A scenic 123 mile motorcycle ride

• An evening meal

• Door prizes and raffle, including a "Queen for a Day" package for the ladies

• Live auction, featuring an original '57 Panhead Engine

• Live Band "Glide"

• Camping Available

Pennyjo's dream

Pennyjo knows her days here with us are numbered, but it is her dream that working for a cure, Motorcycling for Mobility will carry on through the love and support of her friends and all those affected by Multiple Sclerosis.