On Saturday, August 23, Stratham, New Hampshire will be home to the starting line for the National MS Society’s 2014 Bike MS: New Hampshire Seacoast Escape, a bike ride that will raise funds for multiple sclerosis research and services.
Leo Montalbano, a 64-year-old retiree from Rye Beach, is one of the participants in the Seacoast Escape. He has decided to strap on a helmet and pedal his way around New Hampshire’s seaside streets because of one person: his mother-in-law, Peace.
In a fundraising e-mail sent out to family and friends, Leo narrates his mother-in-law’s story. Peace Molinaro was born on November 11, 1918, the same date as the ending of World War I. During World War II, Peace worked in a factory that made piston rings for fighter pilots. It is there that she met her husband Henry, who would enlist and serve as a sergeant in the US Army, mostly in Holland and partially in Germany.
Peace was later diagnosed with MS and passed away at the age of 58. Before her death, Peace worked tirelessly to raise money to combat MS, hosting card parties and other events along with the help of her friends and family.
“Peace is the mother-in-law I never had a chance to meet,” writes Leo. “By all accounts she was a great lady and a real fighter.”
This year, Leo wants to honor Peace’s memory by engaging in his first National MS Society bike ride. He feels that 2014 being the 100-year anniversary of the beginning of World War I is a fitting way to start off his participation.
“I’ve been riding a bike for 40 or 50 years,” Leo said. “My mother-in-law was born on the ending date for World War I, so I kind of put two and two together.”
“There’s been a lot of support,” he continued. “People like it and they like the reference to Peace and World War I. Most of the people I sent [the e-mail] to were relatives of my wife's mother and they thought it would be a great idea.”
So far, Leo has raised $1,085 for the Seacoast Escape. If you would like to donate to Leo’s cause, contributions can be made at bikeMSgne.org, where you may also sign up to be a rider.
Peace will no doubt be in Leo’s mind as he ventures across the Granite State’s beautiful scenic roads. One thing that won’t be on his mind, however, is the need to finish fast.
“I'm sure I'll finish it,” Leo said. Then he laughed, “But I'm also sure the time won't be the record breaker.”