I promise to post my own account of the MS150 as soon as I have time and can download the pictures, but I saw this story on the front page of my paper this morning, and just had to share it. Donations are still being taken so warm that heart and give if you can.
Cyclist pops question after finishing 180-mile rideHe proposes to his girlfriend, who has MS, after cycling from Houston to Austin for BP MS 150
By LOUIS B. PARKSCopyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
AUSTIN — One minute Kristi Mays of Spring was standing with thousands of others at the BP MS 150 finish line, waiting for her sweetheart to arrive. The next, she was surrounded by cameras, and her sweetheart, Alex Peña, was there, on bended knee.
"Will you marry me?" asked the sign someone held up behind Peña. Having a sign was a good idea. The noise from the crowd and public address system announcing arrivals just about drowned out anything short of screaming.
Whatever, Mays got the idea. There were tears and then a firm "yes."
Affectionate reunions were common at Sunday's conclusion of the 2007 BP MS 150, as waiting family and friends congratulated about 12,000 riders on making the 180-mile ride from Houston to Austin.
But for Mays, who waited with her 16-year-old daughter, Shelby Lamberson, the moment was poignant even beyond the surprise proposal.
"Last July 11th, I found out I have MS," Mays said.
The event raises money to fight multiple sclerosis, a devastating nervous system disorder. Peña, 47, rode this year in Mays' honor.
"I have ridden this ride about eight times — but about 20 years ago," Peña said. "Never for a cause except to raise a little money. I knew a little bit about MS. I never knew anybody with it.
"When I found out she had it, I thought this would be a good way to show her I support her."
The proposal was more confirmation of that support.
"It floored me that he did something like this," she said. "This was way, way not to be expected."
Peña was able to propose marriage sooner than he expected with help from the Lone Star Chapter of the National MS Society and Robbins Bros. Jewelry.
They tipped off reporters and photographers, who stood close to Mays at the finish line without revealing themselves, and provided the Marquis-cut engagement ring.
Mays and Peña have dated for five years.
She said the diagnosis last July was devastating.
"I thought this is the end of my world," said Mays, a native Houstonian who works for a mirror and marble manufacturing company in Houston. "What am I going to do about my daughter? I raised my daughter by myself. What does that mean for her, and what does that mean for Alex? I didn't want to be a burden to either one of them."
Peña, who works in the tumor registry at St. Joseph Medical Center, wants to make sure she never has to worry about that, and riding to support MS research was meant to represent that.
"It was pretty emotional," he said of the two-day ride, during which participants were frequently reminded why they were riding. "I teared up a few times."
Almost all 12,000 riders who started the MS 150 finished it, in what ride director Doug Suggitt said was the safest ride ever, with no major injuries in an estimated 2 million road miles.
"We attribute a lot of that to the Safety Task Force and education we've done," he said. "We're seeing it pay off now."
The riders started the second day of the ride in La Grange and made the final 80-plus miles to Austin.
The final rider arrived shortly before 5 p.m. at the finish line in front of the Bob Bullock Museum on Congress Avenue.
The oldest rider, 93-year-old Bud Schiffman, came in to loud cheers from the thinning crowd at 4:50. Like the early riders, he was smiling and waving as he passed the finish line.
As for the newly engaged couple, they were off to eat sushi before beginning the long drive back to Spring.