Roger Eberle knows every inch of his Murrayville neighbourhood.
He's spent several years walking house-to-house or cycling its roads as he fundraises for the MS Fraser Valley Grape Escape. This year's event is June 2 and 3.
It's a task he gladly takes on each year as a way to support his wife Helen, who was diagnosed more than 35 years ago.
Despite the diagnosis, Helen was still able to go on and complete her bachelor's degree at UBC, do research for a year, and win scholarships to York University where she completed a masters in psychology and went on to a successful career as a family counselor for 15 years before she had to stop working due to the progression of the disease.
The disease has robbed the couple of so much over their 31 years together.
"Due to conventional medical wisdom we had to make a choice not to have children, because the doctors told us it would aggravate Helen's multiple sclerosis," he explained.
Helen had been diagnosed more than three decades ago, a full year after she suffered optic neuritis and went blind for two weeks in her left eye. Persistent numbness all down the left side of her body put her in UBC hospital for six weeks of observation, and symptoms persisted, leading doctors to the diagnosis.
For the first 20 years the disease remained in remission, but for the past 15 years it has become worse.
As it progressed MS robbed them of simple pleasures.
"Helen and I used to cycle often when we were younger, mostly around the Shuswap Lake area and in Kamloops," he said.
The Eberles have been active fundraisers for the MS Grape Escape for the past seven years and supported other MS fundraisers depending on where they lived.
He started riding in MS Bike Tour and enlisted some neighbours to cycle along as he trained. That evolved into a neighbourhood team called Cyclone Rangers around 2005. Once the others moved away in short succession, he joined the Carr Crew, headed by Jennifer Carr who has MS, and enjoys the camaraderie over the past six years.
"I wanted to find a way to give back to the community of MS researchers for all the work they had done to help my wife with her medical treatments over the years," he said of his motivation.
He credits generous family, friends and neighbours with helping to raise $5,000-$7,000 annually.
Roger's favourite aspect of the fundraiser is enjoying a ride through such scenic countryside then gathering with his wife and others for a dinner dance on the Saturday of the ride.
In addition to canvassing for donations, he also trains for the ride by doing practice jaunts and working out at a fitness centre.
Roger admits that being such an ardent supporter has a cost.
"The part I dread the most is the bittersweet feeling I get when I have to leave my lovely wife at home alone while I get out in the community, pounding the pavement and meeting our neighbours as I go fundraising for hours from door to door," he said. "It pains us to be apart but the sacrifice is worth the opportunities for building a rapport with the good neighbours who are always so supportive in Murrayville, and it is all in support of such a worthwhile cause."
And Roger has no plans to stop because he and Helen live in hope, hope that the money will fund the research that finds the cure.
MS FRASER VALLEY GRAPE ESCAPE
Nearly 200 cyclists riding in the Fraser Valley, of the 10,000 taking part at events across Canada.
On June 2 and 3, participants will spend two days cycling through the scenic Fraser Valley with visits to a host of great local wineries.
Money raised supports research and services for those living with MS. Find out more online at mssociety.ca/msbiketours/