During the week of May 11 – 15, you may spy an unusually large number of bikers or walkers on Division Street in River Falls as they make their way to Vibrant Health. Not because they need medical help, but instead to participate in “National Ride your Bike to Work” week. As part of the commitment to be powered by health and wellness, Vibrant Health is encouraging all physicians and staff to ride their bikes or walk to work. Leading the charge is Dr. Greg Miller, a family practice physician who bikes to the clinic and hospital as often as possible when the weather permits.
“In addition to other economic and environmental benefits, biking is a relaxing way to get to work. It gives me the time to think and promotes health and wellness,” Dr. Greg Miller said.
Being Powered by Health & Wellness is more than a work obligation – it is a passion for Clinic Administrator Jon Pedersen, a cyclist enthusiast who is riding his bike 150 miles from Duluth to the Twin Cities as part of the annual MS150 challenge to raise awareness about those living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
“Every mile we ride and every dollar we raise makes a difference to the 2.3 million people living with the disease” said Pedersen.
Pedersen first rode the MS 150 in 1986. He then took a few years off when his two oldest kids were young. He has ridden every year since 1992. When asked what pushes him to ride that far for this cause, he shares this story:
“My earliest memory of my uncle Eiler was when I was 4 and we visited him in Elgin, IL just outside of Chicago. He had metal braces on his legs to give him support, and he walked with a very unsteady gait with the use of crutches. It had a profound influence on me, and I could not understand why a relatively young man in his 40’s could be so debilitated.
I remember peppering my dad with many questions, and found out that my uncle had been a very healthy and strong man. He had farmed and served as a police officer until MS caused him to lose his strength and motor skills. The next time I saw my uncle he was confined to a wheelchair, and eventually he had to go to a nursing home to be cared for. He lived with this progressively debilitating disease for another 20 years.”
Pedersen is riding again this year to help raise money for research and to find a cure for this devastating disease. He knows many people with MS, or whose family has been affected by MS and it motivates him to be part of helping to find a cure.
This June will mark his 25th time doing the distance and he says he’ll ride because there is no better feeling or stress reliever than feeling the wind in his face on a good ride. But he has ulterior motives, too.
“I always said I’d ride it until my kids can ride it with me. So far my two oldest kids have also done it a couple times, but I have a 15-year-old who is still holding out. I’d like to share the experience and the camaraderie. “
Pedersen reminisces about one of his most memorable moments on the ride.
“One year my brother and I got soaked riding the first day. Our tent, sleeping bag, and clothes were drenched, too. We looked for a laundromat in Hinckley, Mn. but the line was a block long. An older gentleman who lived in a retirement apartment took pity on us and invited us over to his place. There he served us goodies and let us use the washer and dryer in his apartment. I’ve never forgotten what a gift it was to share a washer, dryer and time with a kind-hearted man.”
Since joining Vibrant Health in 2002, Pedersen says the physicians and staff have been so supportive with their donations to support the cause and other initiatives like the Bike to Work week.
This year on his ride, Pedersen will be sporting the Vibrant Health workout t-shirt with the message #BeVibrant
“It is only appropriate,” says Pedersen. “Staying physically fit and active being powered by health and wellness is more than a tagline. Supporting important causes and being well is a way of life. It’s what being Vibrant is all about.”
So this week, make room for a biker, wave to a walker and consider riding your bike to work.
And if you’d like to support the mission of the Multiple Sclerosis Society to find a cure for this devastating disease, you can use this link to make a donation to Team Finigans:
In the upper right hand, click on the “donate” link, then select a participant, then fill in Jon Pedersen (home state is Minnesota) and proceed.