If you missed yesterday’s post, be sure to check out Glynis Bell, who was our first local mom featured in this week’s “Moms On the Move: Resolutions for Life Changes” series.

Today we have another mom to feature who is literally always on the move.  Sue Ellen discovered that news about her health could, in turn, change her entire life … for the better.

Sue Ellen Bennett, mom of three boys, Daniel-13, Thomas-7 and Ward-4, is married to her childhood sweetheart from Rocky Mount, NC, and has lived here in the Triad for the last 8 ½ years.  To meet her one would never know that Sue Ellen fights a debilitating chronic disease that is estimated to affect more than 2.1 million people worldwide. Sue Ellen has multiple sclerosis (MS).

MS is a crippling and often disabling autoimmune disease that affects the body’s central nervous system.  The word “sclerosis” refers to the scar tissue that forms around a nerve once it’s protective myelin has been attacked.  The damage to the myelin and/or the nerve fiber itself, cause nerve impulses to become distorted or interrupted, thus producing the symptoms associated with MS.

For Sue Ellen, being diagnosed with MS could have easily crushed her spirit and eroded her faith.  Instead, MS has given her a renewed appreciation of life, faith and family.  In 2010, and as a rookie rider, Sue Ellen rode in the Tour to Tanglewood, a 2-day cycling event that raises funds to support people living with multiple sclerosis. To date, her cycling team, “Road Worthy” has raised over $37,000, surpassing their team goal of $30,000.  She rode 100 miles in the 2010 Tour to Tanglewood, 50 on Saturday and 50 on Sunday, while her fundraising goal started with $1500 and ended up at $5000.   Sue Ellen ended up with a fundraising total of $6965 to fight MS, and her efforts rank 16th out of more than 1660 riders.  She was also invited to be a guest on the WFMY News Channel 2 morning show promoting the event for the local MS chapter.

Not surprisingly, Sue Ellen, always full of energy and determination, was the team spirit coordinator for her bike team and decorated the team tent for the event.  The event’s theme for 2010 was super heroes.  Sue Ellen transformed the team tent into a bat cave which won the best tent award for the event.  The team also won the Spirit of the Ride award, one of the most coveted awards a team can earn.  As a result of Sue Ellen’s fundraising, she was included in the mission possible club for the NC Central National MS Society Chapter and won the Suzanne Bland Hustle award. Being a member of the mission possible club means that each cyclist raises a minimum of  $5,000 or $1 for every person that is served by the NC Central Chapter here in the triad.

With her diagnosis, in May of 2008, Sue Ellen could have easily thrown in the towel and let this disease take over.  Instead, Sue Ellen made a resolution for change and has grasped every minute of life and is living it to the fullest.  She has been able to find a better perspective on life.  She was once told that she sucked the marrow out of life every day. She appreciates each day, every movement of her body, every color, face, object she sees and every breath she takes.

With the gift of an MS diagnosis Sue Ellen has been able to respond to her call to serve others by reaching out to others in ways that would have never been possible without this gift.  Sue Ellen says that we are all given gifts of all shapes, sizes and circumstances.  Some of the gifts may even seem anything but… However, she chooses to think of her MS diagnosis as a gift that allows her to help others, spread a little joy and hope, and hopefully, motivate others to recognize and use their own gifts to serve.  And through serving, there is a wonderful perk of joy that she receives on a daily basis by just knowing that she has done something—big or small—to make another person’s day/life a little better.  This goes along with her favorite quote, The keys to a happy and worthwhile life are participation, concern for others and a goal to make this world a better place in which to live. Think of the possibilities of your contribution.” – Dr. Bill Farber

Sue Ellen started her involvement with the local chapter hosting tables at the MS Luncheon in February of 2009 and 2010.  She has hosted three tables the past two years, raising over $1500 each time.

Sue Ellen’s goals for this year’s Tour to Tanglewood, 2011, are to raise a minimum of $7500 and to ride a minimum of 120 miles. There is not a doubt in my mind that she will do it!

Sue Ellen never thought when she registered for the Tour to Tanglewood that this experience would blossom into what it has today.  She just thought she had signed up to ride her bike.  Through this Sue Ellen has found the best way to utilize one of God’s many gifts that have been given to her.  She could not have done any of this without the wonderful support of her husband Tom and her three sons.  They are always there, especially on bad MS days, when she just gets stopped in her tracks and can’t go any further.

Sue Ellen rides for several others affected by MS, including her sister Natalie.  Both, she and her team, Road Worthy, are scheduled to ride in the 2011 Tour to Tanglewood.  To learn more about MS and The Tour to Tanglewood, visit www.nationalmssociety.org/NCC.  You can also make a donation to the National MS Society supporting Sue Ellen’s bike ride by visitinghttp://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/NCCBikeEvents?px=5972582&pg=personal&fr_id=16825.

What Sue Ellen has done and will continue to do affects so many people in such a wonderful, loving and hopeful way.  What could be better than that?  Her spirit is full, charged and determined.  I am so happy to call Sue Ellen a friend and thank her for sharing her life-changing story with us.