Tom Webster readies for the 2015 MS 150 bike ride.
On April 18 and 19, the annual BP MS 150 fundraising bike ride will be held. The event, organized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society South Central Region, is the largest of the 100 Bike MS events in the United States, with 13,000 cyclists and 3,500 volunteers along the route from Houston to the finish line in Austin. In 2014, the BP MS 150 set a fundraising milestone by raising $20 million to support the National MS Society mission to create a world free of MS. For 2015, the fundraising goal is $21 million.
While the MS Society hopes to reach its milestone, Kingwood resident Tom Webster will be reaching his own milestone: 2015 marks his 30th consecutive year of participating in the MS 150. Webster wasn’t aware of the event in its inaugural year, 1985, but since then has completed every one of the rides from 1986 to 2014.
“As far as anyone at the MS Society knows, this is the longest tenure of any rider.” said Webster.
He was recently honored with a Humanitarian Award from FedEx, which has been his sponsor for the last 10 years.
“FedEx has sponsored me, as well as other FedEx employees and customers by providing a tent, dinner and breakfast at the overnight point in LaGrange. They transport luggage and bikes. Our team captain is Rick Siciliano and he is assisted by Ruben Chapa. They spend many hours to put together this support for us. FedEx has put in a lot of energy and given a lot of financial support to the society.”
Webster also applauded his wonderful family support.
“My wife, Laura, has given me great support. She has been at the finish line and has encouraged me in a number of ways.”
Webster’s friends and family have contributed $43,000 in financial support over the last 29 years. Webster’s brother, Ralph, has been a great financial contributor, as well as taking their 93-year-old mother to the finish line. Webster ’s kids have also been a great support. He and his wife have lived in Kingwood for 31 years, where they’ve raised their two children, Amy and Ryan. Amy was a teacher at Creekwood Middle School and a counselor at Kingwood High School. Their son Ryan is an attorney.
“My son-in-law, Dave Seeburger, is joining me on the bike ride this year, and I’m really excited to share this with him,” said Webster .
“My best ride was in 1988, because Ryan rode with me at age 9. It was also the worst ride because of a Sunday cold front that brought a 30 mph headwind. It was extremely cold, but Ryan was a trooper. He didn't complain or consider quitting.”
Ryan is still considered today as the youngest person to complete the ride without assistance from an adult or sag wagon.
MS is a disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the protective covering of the nerves. It affects people in different ways and different severity.
Webster explained, “My father was diagnosed with MS when I was a senior in high school. The MS Society was formed to provide assistance to both patients and their families. This is the kind of support that my dad didn’t have, so of course, I am motivated to assist in providing donations to the MS Society for this purpose. I did have the experience of seeing what MS can do to someone and their family,” Webster explained. Money raised from the ride supports patients, families and funds research for a cure to MS.
For Webster , April 18 can’t get here fast enough. He looks forward to the time spent with family, friends, FedEx colleagues and people he has met over the years from other organizations that participate in the ride.