Pictured: Bob and his daughter, Jennifer, at Bike MS Willamette Valley 2015
Lifelong Partners Continue to Support One Another
By Alison Jelden
“The biggest thing to understand [about MS] is that people don’t like to be alone and there’s a lot of support pulling for them.” -Bob Hall
Bob Hall lives in Klamath Falls, Oregon where he loves the outdoors–cycling, camping and fishing. We spoke with him about his deep connection to MS, his investment in the MS community of Southern Oregon, and why Bike MS holds a special place in his heart.
In The Beginning…
It was your typical love story. In 1987, Bob met his future wife, Karen, while working construction in Nevada. When he first laid eyes on her, there was something different, something special. They both knew this was destiny. After a month, Karen and Bob were hitched and began to plan the rest of their life.
The newlyweds had dreams to grow old together, travel, go on wonderful adventures. A year later, they welcomed their beautiful daughter, Jennifer, into the world and started a family of their own. All was moving along as planned, until the unexpected happened: in 2000, Karen was diagnosed with primary-progressive MS.
“I have always been the one to fix everything.” Bob explained. “This time, I could not fix the problem. My loving wife withdrew from everyone. I felt alone.”
As a full-time caretaker, husband and father, Bob provided around-the-clock care for Karen and did everything he could do for his family. But four years after her diagnosis, overpowered by complications of the disease, she passed away.
Bob thought he would have more time with his wife. It cut deeply into his soul. He wasn’t sure how his life would be without Karen—he wanted a way to honor her sweet memory. Seven years later, Bob contacted the National MS Society. He was ready to give back.
Moving Forward as a Member of the MS Community
“Since my wife’s passing, I try to do my part by talking to other spouses of people living with MS,” said Bob.
In the last two years, Bob has played an active role in the Klamath county MS community, where approximately 100 people living with MS reside. Through a commitment to spreading awareness, Bob provides up-to-date information, emotional support, and as someone who has experienced the caregiver role firsthand, offers families a powerful perspective to manage through the many challenges MS can present.
Bob tells each family, “You don’t have to do this alone. This is why I am here to help.”
The Hall Family Together at Bike MS
During Bike MS weekend, the family comes together in memory of Karen.
As Bob cycles through the gorgeous Willamette Valley countryside, he thinks about Karen and their years together. Their daughter, Jennifer, volunteers, honoring Karen’s memory by playing a vital support role. When dinner time rolls around in Rider Village, Bob and Jennifer feel the positive energy, sense the community presence, and know they are a part of the bigger MS family.
This year, Bike MS was proud to support the 2nd annual “I Ride with MS” program, where people living with MS can join together for an honorary loop around the WOU campus prior to heading out on the longer route. Bob asked us to add this in particular for those riders, and everyone else who lives with multiple sclerosis:
“You are not alone. Do not hide away from the disease. Do not give up. The more active you are the better quality of life you’ll have. Get out and RIDE. Get out and VOLUNTEER. Get out and BE ACTIVE!”
Join Bob and the hundreds of others in our tight-knit community to stop MS in its tracks.
Thank you, Bob, for sharing your beautiful story with us. Everyone at our Chapter is honored by your commitment to help those who live with MS, and for honoring Karen’s memory with such a big heart. You are golden.
-Your friends at the National MS Society, Oregon Chapter