Driving MS Daisy 2018

A Little Context Please

Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world, with an estimated 1 in 340 Canadians living with the disease. While it is most often diagnosed in young adults aged 15 to 40, younger children and older adults are also diagnosed with the disease (source, MS Society).  Each June the MS Society of Alberta and the NWT runs the Leduc to Camrose ride over two days and about 150km.

Who Cares About MS Anyway – I Want to Go HOME

Picture this, you are on the MS Leduc to Camrose ride and true to form it is raining, you are tired and there is BIG-FRIGGIN’ hill between you and the next rest stop.  This hill seems to be about as high as Mount Everest.  Who the HECK builds a road up FRIGGIN’ Mount Everest and then runs a MS BIke Ride on it!

As you stare at this hill that is growing by the minute in height, you cannot even remember why you signed up for this ^#@)!=& ride in the first place. Actually you know why, that cursed wife/husband, girl/boyfriend, co-worker, aunt/uncle, etc. talked you into it.  Who the hell cares about MS anyway, you are cold, wet, miserable and you just want to go home.

Giving Everest a Pass for MS

Just as Mount Everest is growing taller, a white pick up truck pulls in front of you.  From it walks a friendly volunteer.  The volunteer discusses how MS is episodic, there are great days and there are days just like this one that REALLY suck.  Like most diseases, it is easy to be over-whelmed and even lash out to those who care for you and are trying to help.  The volunteer suggests that you hop in the truck, take a pass on the Mount Everest’esque hill and get driven just a few kilometers to the rest stop.

At the rest stop the volunteer then asks you to do something strange, sign the truck.  With a larger marker, you write your name, perhaps including a small note.  You notice that you are not the first to sign the truck.  Hundreds of people who have been helped by the truck or who have helped create the truck inter-mingle on the hood, fenders and doors of this circa 1995 white truck.

It is then you understand why you signed up for the 2018 ^#@)!=& MS ride.  It is because some days, people with MS just need a small rescue and a bit of hope to get to their next rest stop so they can carry on the next day.  Your wife/husband, girl/boyfriend, co-worker, aunt/uncle, etc. pulls into the rest stop.  All is forgiven… well until the next big FRIGGIN’ hill that is… but that is down the road… just like living with MS.

Wanted an Old Truck Called Driving MS Daisy

On June 9 and 10, 2018 I would like to be that volunteer (see my 2017 MS Ride notes on why I am doing this).  The truck needs to be in a good running condition and reasonable shape.  Likely the MS Society will register and insure it.  When 2018 is done, MS Daisy 2018 may be auction off and a MS Daisy 2019 will be created with a circa 1996 white pick up truck.

Sponsors and Friends of MS Daisy

MS Daisy 2018 will be a community and collaborative affair.  I am looking for a variety of sponsors from getting the truck pro bono, repairing and restoring the truck, applying thank you-decals, driving it (possibly all over Western Canada), writing on it and finally auctioning it off to start fresh.

A Pro Bono Circa 1995 Truck

To start, I need a truck. Ideally I would like to find a circa 1995 white full sized crewcab pick up truck.  She can be as old as 1984 or as new as 2003.  These dates represent the range when MS is diagnosed (34 years old) or typical first onset (15 years old).  Also I am calling MS Daisy a she because MS strikes 2:1 females versus males (and it makes for a better pun).

Perhaps there is a car dealership or broker who has one sitting in their inventory or a great deal comes up on the wholesale auction.  In any case, the organization providing the truck would get primary sponsorship space on the truck itself.

Repair and Restoring the Old Girl

Circa 1995 vehicles typically are showing their age.  They have a bit of rust and require at least some mechanical work.  There is a parallel here to MS in which a healthy lifestyle may prevent MS episodes or at least make the next episode easier to weather.

In my ideal world, this work would be done by a technical college or even a high school as a class project.  Even better, a garage or auto body shop would sponsor and supervise the work done by the students for apprenticeship credits.

While in the shop, MS Daisy would get a basic engine overhaul, full mechanical inspection and repair (e.g. brakes, electrical system, suspension, etc.) and possibly new rubber.  Cosmetically, she will receive a paint job, ideally in flat matte white.  Why, because it easier to write on of course!

In addition to sponsorship decals, everyone who is involved in buying and restoring MS Daisy will get to sign her.  In this way, the MS Society can use MS Daisy as a symbol to show how the disease touches the lives of many Canadians.

Driving MS Daisy 2018

The intent is drive MS Daisy in the June 9/10 2018 Leduc to Camrose MS Ride.  This by itself would be success.  However, the MS Society may choose to use MS Daisy to help other riders participating in other events held in Alberta and Western Canada.

Beyond MS, the MS Society may also wish to loan the vehicle out to other events.  For example, MS Daisy can help with the Tour de l’Alberta, the Tour of Alberta or even other rides that meet the MS Society’s goals or that sponsor the society.

Whether on the Leduc to Camrose MS Ride, another MS Ride or on a partnership event, everyone who comes into contact with MS Daisy will sign her guest book. The fact that her guest book is her hood, front fenders and doors is part of what makes MS Daisy eccentric and a bit charming.  It also builds a tangible link between individuals, the vehicle and the MS brand.  In the day and age of instant celebrity and oblivion via social media, this gives those touched by MS Daisy a touch point to a larger community cause (plus she will make an awesome backdrop for an Instagram photo!).

Retiring MS Daisy

Every year MS will strike a new group of young people in Canada and every year a new MS Daisy should be found.  But what to do with the old one?  Why send her off to a new adventure of course.  She will be sold at auction (e.g. Ritchie Brothers) everyone who signed MS Daisy will be invited to to see her go to a new new home.  To a certain extent, this is the final metaphor for the MS Daisy program.  By riding in the MS Ride, we want those who have the disease to go on with their lives in as normal of fashion as possible.

But what about 2019?  Ideally a new MS Daisy will be nurtured into existence, driven around the Western Canada and then auction off to start a new life as well.

Financial Considerations and Next Steps

Will Driving Ms Daisy 2018 raise money for the MS Society?  Yes but not a lot.  There will be a ‘MS Daisy’ team entered in every event the vehicle participants in.  Ideally this would raise between $500-$3,000 in donations.  The value of the final auction will also net the society between $2,000 to $7,000 gross proceeds.  This will raise in total of  $2,500 to $10,000 gross proceeds.

This may not seem like a lot but there are also no costs associated with MS Daisy for the MS Society other than registration and insurance.  The campaign has an opportunity to promote the MS rides among cyclists participating in other events and it will generate over all brand awareness for MS.  Secondary benefits include reaching out to new sponsors to support the ride.

This has been fun putting together this promotional campaign.  Hopefully it is of interest and in the meantime, does anyone have a circa 1995 white pick up truck?  I would like to use it to help someone conquer an Everest’esque hill on the June 9 and 10, 2018 weekend.