My Volunteer Story:  Riding to raise Money for MS

My Volunteer Story: Riding to raise Money for MS

Posted by Bill, Plant Manager

As the Plant Manager for Tom’s of Maine, I work inside our factory in Sanford, Maine. Day to day, I make sure that production and all the support operations meet our standards for safety, quality, efficiency, and sustainability. I am responsible for the long term capacity and technology to make sure we can make all our current and future products and keep growing with continuous improvement. I also support our community building efforts, such as our volunteer team project where we recently filled Thanksgiving baskets at the local food pantry.

In addition to Tom’s community volunteer projects, I also train year-round for a volunteer effort outside of work that I first got involved with 15 years ago. That is the City-to-Shore MS150 ride. I was living in Pennsylvania at the time, and a group from my bike club were gathering enthusiasm to sign up for a charity ride. This ride had an important mission – to raise public awareness and funds to fight multiple sclerosis. 200 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with MS each week, often people in their 30’s and 40’s, leaving them unable to walk and unable to care for their families. It can go into remission; it can be treated with drugs; but there is no cure . . . yet.

One of the ways I get in shape for the ride is my commute to work! I can bike back roads from my home to our Sanford, Maine factory. It is 40 miles round trip. Any day that I can bike back and forth to work is a good day.

The ride is a two-day, 150-mile ride from the Philadelphia area to Ocean City, NJ and back. Over the 15 years that I have been doing the ride, it has grown to 7000 riders, so the roads are packed. My friends and I get an early start the first day, waking up at 4 AM so we spend our time biking, not in a line waiting to start. There are rest stops along the way where supporters shake rattles and bells to cheer on the riders. And the finish line is amazing, with an arch of balloons and people with MS thanking riders personally. It is really quite emotional, and it is what keeps me coming back year after year.

I am part of a team from my old community (the “Wild Bucks” of Bucks County, PA). We make quite a sight, all riding together wearing antlers on our helmets. While we have a fun time, we also share a sense of purpose. We are riding for people who have MS. And we are raising money for the National MS Society.

The Tom’s of Maine volunteer benefit means a lot to me. It means that my company is standing behind me, supporting my time and efforts to volunteer. It blurs the line between work and life for the employee, and it blurs the line between business and community for the company. The Tom’s of Maine volunteer benefit honors the very human fact that we are all part of a bigger world.