Juliann Fritz, MS Society
LOGAN — Last June, Alison Moon borrowed a bike to ride 100 miles in hopes of honoring one daughter and saving another.
The 56-year-old Lehi woman hadn't been on a bike for decades when someone mentioned Harmons Best Dam Bike Ride, a 100-mile annual ride in Logan held last weekend that benefits the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"I didn't even know about the ride," said Moon, who found out about the ride after losing her daughter, Marissa, to complications from multiple sclerosis in September 2010. "I'd never heard about it. After I lost Marissa, someone brought it to my attention, and I thought, 'Yeah, let's do it.'"
Part of what prompted Moon to not only climb on a bike herself, but also recruit about a dozen family and friends to do the same, was her daughter, Shalise.
"Shalise was diagnosed with MS five years ago," said Moon, who finished the ride with several of her children, including Shalise, friends and Marissa's two daughters, Baylie, 12, and Paiten, 14. "Riding was certainly to honor Marissa and remember her. But it was also for Shalise."
Shalise watched her mother caring for Marissa, who was 33 when she passed away.
"Shalise looked at me and said, 'I don't want that to be me,'" said Moon, her voice cracking with emotion. "I feel like a mother with her bear cub. I want Shalise to know that we're here for her, supporting her and that we're supporting this cause and fighting this disease in whatever way we can."
So the family "begged, borrowed and stole" bikes last year to ride in its first MS ride, as Team Marissa. While many used the same bikes for this year's ride, Moon said they also went to Bingham Cyclery and bought new bikes for others. The family trained together in preparation for Saturday's ride, which was extremely hot and windy for the thousands who participated.
"It's fun," said Moon of the experiences, from fundraising to training to the actual ride. "It's very fun. And the MS Society does a magnificent job of pulling that many people together for a cause. It's been amazing."
The entire 13-member team made it to the finish of Saturday's ride, although one rider had to drop out on Friday night after discovering kidney stones.
"We've had some things to deal with," laughed Moon. Additionally, her ex-husband and brother-in-law were diagnosed with esophageal cancer two weeks apart.
But no amount of adversity was going to stop this mamma bear from doing her part to fight the disease that's afflicted two of her children.
"It's been a great experience, a great family-building experience," she said. "Unity and love is what it's about for us." And, she admits, the physical challenge has been good for all involved.
"About mile 75, it became extremely hard," she said. "It was crazy how hard."
That's when she summoned the strength of Marissa, who helped them all along the route.
"She was a fighter," Moon said. "She fought that illness like no other. And to be honest with you, I know she was with us every pedal stroke of the ride. I definitely felt her presence with us."
She said it was a surreal moment when they crossed the finish line. "We weren't the first, but we weren't the last either," she said with another hearty laugh.
"It was a surreal moment when none of us who were cyclists in any way, shape or form accomplished something really great. I think (Marissa) would have been really proud especially of her daughters."
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