Allentown woman will ride to fight multiple sclerosis

ALLENTOWN — On May 21-22, Allentown resident Dorothy “Dee” Haker will cycle 170 miles in the “Coast the Coast” MS Bike Tour to end the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis. As if riding 170 miles was not difficult enough, Haker is riding it while dealing with her MS.

According to a press release, Haker began having symptoms in 1992; while watching TV she suddenly could not see. Things went blurry and she had no ability to distinguish detail. In addition to that she lost the strength in her legs and could no longer walk. A trip to the emergency room yielded no results, in fact, it took three years and many misdiagnosis before doctors realized that Haker had MS.

Fortunately, with time, Haker’s symptoms gradually improved. It was not until 1995 after another episode where her vision went that she was actually diagnosed with MS. Ironically, Dee was on a bike teaching her son, then 6, how to ride when her vision went blurry to the point of blindness.

As the doctor gave her the diagnosis of MS, Haker remembers literally fainting.

“As I came to, my imagination ran wild with thoughts of blindness and spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair,” Haker recalls.

It was not long after that, that Haker decided to take control of her disease before it took control of her. And that is exactly what she did. She had always wanted to try the MS “Coast the Coast” Bike Tour so in 2001 she rode the 50-mile tour. As she was riding in that tour, she yearned to continue on with the 170-mile cyclists, so she promised herself that she would do it the next year.

This year marks the fourth year that Haker will ride 170 miles to help find a cure for MS. Haker and her physician credit her strong will and physically activity as major factors in keeping her MS under control. Last year Haker raised $1,000 and this year she again has the same personal goal, to be healthy enough to ride in the tour and finish all 170 miles. The “Coast the Coast” MS Bike Tour raises money through the collection of pledges by cyclists to support research and programs for people with MS.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic and often disabling disease of the central nervous system. People with MS, which is usually diagnosed in the prime of life (between the ages of 20 and 50), face unpredictable symptoms that can range from numbness, extreme fatigue and blurred vision to paralysis and blindness.

The National MS Society supports programs that help ensure people with MS will live their lives with as little disruption as possible. The society advocates for the empowerment of people with MS.

For more information about Haker’s ride or to make a donation to her efforts, she can be contacted at swtgirld@Yahoo.com, dee2tour@yahoo.com or send a contribution directly to Haker at P.O. Box 534, Allentown 08501; make checks payable to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Mid-Jersey Chapter.

For more information about multiple sclerosis, the “Coast the Coast” Bike Tour or the society and its services, contact the Mid-Jersey Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society at (732) 660-1005.