Any military wife has a lot to handle when her husband is away in a war zone. “Imagine how much harder it is to have MS on top of that,” said Sharon Dodge, diagnosed in 1997, whose husband, Bill, is a Navy pilot currently serving his second 14-month tour in Afghanistan.
“It’s tough watching the kids — 17-year-old Tyler and 13-year-old twins Sarah and Caitlyn — be nervous and scared. We just want to get Bill home and not ever have him go over there again. But I try to rise to the occasion. It’s what my dad — who was also a Navy pilot — raised me to do.”
The Dodges live two hours north of Seattle on Whidbey Island, where Sharon works part-time as a substitute teacher and is on-call as a branch office administrator. As a member of the Society’s National Client Education Committee, she gives feedback on articles, pamphlets, brochures and books.
Her main focus, though, is Bike MS. Team Navy raised over $40,000 this year and Sharon personally raised over $8,000. “We beat a team with twice as many riders!” she says proudly. “Bill has ridden every year for seven or eight years. He couldn’t stand that we were riding without him this year, so he decided to pedal on a stationary bike in the gym at his base in Kabul for five hours!”
Sharon’s dad, who also had MS, died at age 48. “My dad was my hero,” Sharon said. “Watching him go downhill so fast was very difficult for me. I gave up a lot my senior year in high school to help take care of him and his death rocked my world. I felt like I was truly robbed.”
She continued, “Every life event brings back that sadness. Walking down the aisle at the United States Naval Academy to marry my handsome Navy pilot was one of the happiest days of my life, but my father’s presence was sorely absent. When I gave birth to Tyler, the same thing. The grief is always there for me even though I feel my dad with me every day.
“When I am pedaling during Bike MS, on day two at around mile 48, when I feel like I just cannot pedal one second longer, I hear his voice. Every year. I know it sounds crazy but every year I hear his voice and it’s always the same. ‘You can do this. I am so proud of you.’”