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Profound effect on Luseland family spawns MS fundraising efforts

When five family members were diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, it initiated a call to action resulting in a team being formed to participate in the annual MS Bike Tour fundraising and awareness event

LUSELAND - Imagine having five of your dad’s sisters, your aunts, diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Three of those aunts are currently living with MS while two have succumbed to the disease. Richard Flahr is from a family of seven, with him as the only male, and five of his six sisters have been diagnosed with MS.

Having family directly impacted by this disease created a call to action by Richard’s daughters and family members. Thus, Team Flahr was started in 2014, one and half years after losing Aunt Niki to MS, and having previously losing Aunt Bernice also to MS. 

“Each year our team does this ride for those who have lost to MS, and our loved ones who are living with MS,” says a Team Flahr representative.  Their participation has taken place in both Alberta and Saskatchewan since they began their involvement in this annual fundraising and awareness event.  

Richard Flahr's daughters are the heart of Team Flahr. Sheila Wilson (Flahr) is from Leduc, Alta., Trina Flahr is from North Battleford and Sacha Knorr (Flahr) is from Beaumont, Alta.  Son, Travis Flahr, who is unable to ride this year due to coaching commitments, resides in Raymore.  

The MS Bike Ride, which is organized by the MS Society of Canada, helps raise awareness for this disease as well as much needing funding for research with the hope of one day finding a cure to end Multiple Sclerosis. Statistics Canada says Canadians may have the highest prevalence of MS in the world, and women are two to three times more likely than men to have MS. Saskatchewan is said to have among the highest rates of MS in Canada.

“We will continue to ride for those who cannot, and, until there is a cure,” says Sacha Knorr.

This will be Team Flahr’s seventh year of participation in this cause. Over the course of their six years of riding, the team, acknowledging strong support of their family and friends, has raised over $65,000.

Team members include sisters Sacha, Sheila, Trina and friends. Dad, Richard Flahr, 67 years young, will join the ride this year, riding for his sisters. Gayla Hodgson rides for friends living with MS and for teammate Courtney. Courtney and Justin McRea are friends and they ride for Justin’s mom living with MS. Mary Kloster lives in Luseland and rides for her uncle and cousin living with MS. As well, cousin Farryn Reschny, will ride for her mom, a Flahr, living with MS.

Knorr adds, “When we were just teenagers, or early 20’s for team member Trina, we lost Auntie Niki to MS and in 2000, we lost Auntie Bernice to the same disease. The following spring, Sheila and I decided to join MS Bike Tour to raise money and awareness for this cause, doing it for the two aunts we lost and the three aunts who are living with this terrible disease.”

Knorr says her sister Sheila brought home a pamphlet from work outlining the details of the ride and when she asked her sister if she wanted to sign up, the answer was a resounding yes and thus started Team Flahr's with Flair.

When Trina came on board, she said the ride was the biggest challenge of her life.

Knorr says, “2016 was the biggest challenge for many riders with 2000 starting the ride and only 500, including us finishing. We have learned a lot, and are more prepared for whatever the weather should bring. "

Team member Sheila says, “I honestly think that everyone's biggest obstacle is mental. Each one of our team members have had a year when they just wanted to quit in the middle of the ride and wondered why we put ourselves through this year after year. What is amazing when we do the ride in person, is no matter whether it is your teammate, volunteers cheering you on at the side of the road, or some person you've never met who happens to be riding near you, if you need a boost of energy, you'll get it from someone along the way."

Typically, Team Flahr's with Flair would join as many as 2,000 other rides in a 180 km/2-day journey. Due to this year’s MS Bike event being virtual again, the team knew they could ride anywhere they wanted so decided to bring the ride “home,” where their aunts and dad, and they themselves, grew up. This is the first ever MS Bike event for Team Flahr, taking place in their hometown of Luseland. 

Trina says, “This year, not only will our aunts be there to cheer us on, but our dad is also doing the ride with us.”

Team Flahr's with Flair, as they have named themselves, says they have had the opportunity to engage and connect with their hometown community and the outpouring of support has been incredible.

The Town of Luseland has partnered with the family supporting the hosting of this event by closing part of Main Street for the start and finish line as well as including a community barbecue. This Luseland event will include a 63 km ride.

Community members can ride with Flahr's with Flair, join them at the start or finish line, support the accompanying barbecue or make a donation. Full event details are on the team’s Facebook page, Flahr’s with Flair Gear Up to end MS.