Northwest Navigator: News and Information from Navy Region Northwest in Washington State's Puget Sound, including Bremerton, Kitsap County, Oak Harbor, and Everett

Biking for a cause

Butch Reinstra
Sharon Dodge (front row, first from left). Cmdr. Bill Dodge (back row, third from right) and son Tyler (front row, third from left) are surrounded by Team Navy early Saturday morning shortly before hopping on the bicycles to trek 150 miles through the Pacific Northwest.

Eighteen “Team Navy” riders joined 1,900 cyclists last weekend in the Bike MS (multiple sclerosis), each logging 150 miles over the two days on various routes from Mt. Vernon, Wash. over Deception Pass Bridge to Oak Harbor and back on Saturday and up to Bellingham via Chuckanut Drive and back on Sunday.

Team Navy is made up of 10 Navy-connected folks plus eight “friends of the Navy” who are highly dedicated in their fight against MS. Their Web page says it best: “We understand that riding 150 miles on a bicycle is nowhere near as difficult as confronting a lifetime with MS.”

Ask any member and they’ll tell you they ride for Sharon Dodge who lost her father, Walt Rogers, a former Navy A-4 Skyhawk and American Airlines pilot, to MS in 1988 and then was diagnosed with the same disease in 1996.  She is an inspiration to them all.

“Movement, it’s as simple as riding a bike,” said Dodge, explaining that multiple sclerosis stops people from moving. “It is always a mental and physical challenge for me to complete this ride when my own body is fighting the same disease that took my dad from me at such an early age (48).”

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or blindness. The progress, severity, and symptoms of MS are unpredictable.

Perseverance against great obstacles is something Sharon learned early on. Interestingly, it was the first “big” word her father taught her.  And it’s a trait she practices every single day.

Cmdr. Bill Dodge, commanding officer of Navy Information Operations Command, Whidbey Island, is not only Sharon’s husband and head cheerleader, he’s the captain of Team Navy. 

Team members who participated this year are Sharon, Bill and son Tyler Dodge; Cmdr. Dan Arensmeyer, USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN-730) commanding officer, Ric Autio, NIOC employee and retired Army; Brian Bartlett; Cryptologic Technician 1st Class Brad Carmichael; Jeanne Crisp; Zach Crum; Capt. Gerral David, NAS Whidbey Island commanding officer; Jim Jaeger; Kimberly Koch, National MS Office, Denver; Craig Leroy; Douglas McVey, NIOC employee and retired Navy; Teresa and Mike Moore; William Oakes, retired Navy; and Senior Chief Machinist’s Mate Steve Owens, Submarine Development Squadron 5.

“It’s an emotional experience riding together to fight MS,” said Bill. “Biking for a cause has enriched my life. I’m surrounded by motivated people who see challenge as a good thing.”

Team Navy contributions to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society this year topped $31,000. NMSS supports research projects around the globe. They also provide education, programs and services to everyone affected by MS, including the diagnosed, their friends and families, and the healthcare professionals who work with them.

The tired bikers of Team Navy, who had broken into different biking groups based on ability throughout the weekend, gathered together late Sunday afternoon to carry out the team’s time-honored tradition to “leave no man or woman behind” and crossed the finish line together.

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