OAK BROOK – During her morning walks, the sun pokes through the tree canopy, garnishing the leaves of Fullersburg Woods with light that soon floods the forest and shines upon Holly McGinn as she strolls the trails.
"There's nothing like Fullersburg Woods at 6 a.m. just seeing nature at its best," said the Oak Brook resident.
walking the trails of Fullersburg is one of McGinn's favorite activities, but a few years ago a diagnosis she received could have halted much more than a hobby.
In 2003, McGinn was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"Pretty soon my symptoms started to progress and then I lost my vision, and then I had trouble walking and [my doctor] put me in the hospital on a very high dose of steroids and he shut it down," she said. "Every one of my symptoms went away and all he said to me was stay healthy."
Fortunately McGinn's MS is now dormant, but that hasn't stopped her from supporting those with the disease, raising awareness and finding a cure.
In 2011, her best friend rode in the "Bike MS: Tour de Farms," a fundraising ride ranging from 15-200 miles in DeKalb to support the National MS Society Greater Illinois Chapter. After watching the event as a spectator, McGinn was inspired to compete in the ride the following year.
"When I was driving up to DeKalb to watch the ride, you just got this overwhelming sense of emotion to see thousands of riders coming together for the greater cause to find a cure for MS," she said.
She competed in her first Bike MS: Tour de Farms in 2012 with a team of about 12 riders composed of family, friends and co-workers. This year, riding for the third time and going 35 miles, her team will nearly double in size to 23 members.
"I think that because the team has grown and because people know that we've lost people to the disease, I think there may be a little more emotion this year," she said.
McGinn said each participant in the ride is asked to raise $300. Since April, McGinn and her team have raised almost $8,000 with a "bring your spare change party," multi-family garage sales and social media campaigns.
Next year, McGinn anticipates her team will grow to almost 30 riders; but she also encourages spectators to come out and cheer to support those helping to find a cure.
"The greatest thing about this ride is that they give those with MS the opportunity to prove to people that it's not a limiting disease and you can get out there and do this," she said.
• What: Bike MS: Tour de Farms
• The 15-200 mile bike ride supports the National MS Society, Greater Illinois Chapter, in raising money, giving support and finding a cure.
• When: June 21 and June 22
• Where: Northern Illinois University, DeKalb