Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Reported by Mike Conneen
One very determined biker pedaled through Florence Monday on his cross country journey for a special cause. Merle Knotts is 68-years old. He is traveling more than 3,000 miles to raise awareness and raise money for multiple sclerosis research.
For four weeks and three days, he has been riding a a 2005 Catrike recumbent tricycle. He has peddled through rain in Illinois and tornado watches in Kansas.
In Colorado, he has enjoyed blue skies and sunshine. He said, "The day before yesterday I was given the honor of riding with a herd of horses. They were running along the fence for about half a mile."
On May 19th, he started peddling from Atlanta to his 50th high school reunion in Oak Harbor, Washington. Monday, he crossed the halfway point, just outside Florence.
In the end, he will have traveled through twelve states, crossing more than 3,000 miles, with his wife Jan behind him each and every mile. She said, "You can go for 58 miles, 68 miles and not see another person."
Merle has conquered the Appalachians and the Ozarks. "They were just straight up and straight down and nothing level," he said.
Now, he faces the Rocky Mountains. "I think I've got a lot of work to do," he said.
Merle is a hero. His journey is heroic. Merle himself has M.S. He said, "It was diagnosed in 1980 so I've had it about 30 years."
His symptoms are less severe. He has no motor control problems. "And I almost feel obligated to do all I can to help the people who are not so lucky," he said.
He said everyone they have met along the way knows someone with M.S. He said he tells them to hold out hope. "M.S. is not a death sentence... Just because you've been diagnosed doesn't mean life stops; you just go on and do what you've got to do."
His knees and feet hurt, but he said he feels great.
Make a donation to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in Merle's name. Go to www.merlesmilesforms.com.
As of Monday, Merle had raised $8,000. He is 300 miles ahead of schedule. He should arrive in Oak Harbor by early August, just in time for his 50th high school reunion. You can bet, he will be the best in shape of all his classmates.