About 17 years ago Sonic Foundry CFO Ken Minor’s wife, Karen, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. At the time there were only three medications on the market.
“I felt like we needed to do something to raise as much money as possible to go towards funding research and finding a cure for this disease before Karen became permanently impacted by it,” Ken said.
So, he founded the Sonic Streamers team to participate in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s annual 150-mile Bike MS: Best Dam Bike Ride from Milwaukee to Madison, which took place this year Aug. 2-3. What started as a group of six riders 16 years ago has grown to more than 100 — and includes Sonic Foundry employees and their friends and family. To date, the Sonic Streamers team has raised more than $1 million and is one of only two teams in Wisconsin to reach that milestone.
“We’ve had tremendous success. It’s really rewarding to think about the kind of impact that we can have,” Ken said, adding that Karen rode a portion of the ride with him. “It’s so important to do what we can now and hopefully reach the $2 million mark even faster.”
Sonic Foundry Software Design Engineer Ryan Mechelke joined the Sonic Streamers last year. One of Ryan’s friends has been riding on the team for years to support her mother who has MS. Ryan wasn’t able to ride this year due to an injury but he had such a great time last year that he decided to participate every year that he can.
“It was incredibly inspiring and made me very happy knowing that I was helping to raise awareness,” Ryan said. “My favorite moment last year was a woman and her family who were parked on the side of the road along the route. She had a big sign saying ‘I have MS, thank you for riding!’ I saw several people stop, get off of their bikes, walk over to her and give her a big hug.”
According to the National MS Society, multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body. Millions of people are affected by MS, however the severity and specific symptoms can’t yet be predicted. Thanks in part to funding from events like the bike ride and the generous donations Ken and his team have received over the years, the number of FDA-approved medications on the market has grown to 13.
Learn more about the ride in this Baraboo News Republic article and how to help here.