Taking MS On With His Own Hands

Editor’s Note:  Brian Doughtie is a sponsored hand-cyclist who travels the Southeast raising funds and competing in events that benefit Multiple Sclerosis associations. Brian’s life was changed when a loved one was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. After receiving the news, he decided to personally take MS on, literally using his own hands to help fight the disease.  

Brian & Todd train in the evenings after work.

Brian & Todd train in the evenings after work.

Brian Doughtie hits the road every day, often racking up hundreds of miles in a week while cycling on the backroads of Atlanta and beyond.  But you’ll have to look lower than usual to see Doughtie in your rearview mirror, because Brian doesn’t ride a traditional bike – he hand-cycles.

“My friend Todd Robinson introduced me to a hand cycle one day after work,” Doughtie recalls.  The two met through work at UroMed more than 10 years ago.  UroMed is one of the leading national service providers for Urological, Incontinence and other disposable medical supplies for patients who are living with Spinal Cord Injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Spina Bifida or other urological conditions. 

“Todd is a T-4 paraplegic and he’ll tell you he’s been hand-cycling since the days of Noah’s ark,” Doughtie laughs. “After Todd whipped me into shape, I started competing in hand-cycle races in 2006.”

Hand cycles differ from a road bike in terms of being closer to the ground and in the way you use them. A normal road bike that an able-bodied person would ride is powered by your legs, the strongest muscles in your body. 

Brian cycles often with Team Shepherd, benefitting the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

Brian cycles often with Team Shepherd, benefitting the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

Hand cycles are designed for people who don’t use their legs.  Riders  use their hands, arms, back and abdominal muscles to power the cycle.  Those body areas are comprised of smaller muscles that are not designed to be used in that manner, so it is a much harder workout and it takes much more effort to hand cycle as opposed to traditional biking.

Doughtie will patiently explain all of the aspects of hand cycling to anyone who asks, and his listener’s eyes always get big as they learn about the length of his workouts.  His weekday workouts average 15-25 miles. Weekends go up to 30-45 miles.  When Doughtie participates in charity rides, they will run 50 miles or more. 

Brian hand cycles in support of a friend with Multiple Sclerosis.

Brian hand cycles in support of a friend with Multiple Sclerosis.

Usually, less than five minutes into the conversation, an obvious question will arise —  “Why do you do it?”   People ask Doughtie all the time why he hand cycles, not because the workout is harder, but because Brian is able-bodied. He doesn’t have to hand cycle if he doesn’t want to, but he choses to do so in support of a family friend.  In our minds, that’s what makes Brian Doughtie a hometown hero. 

“There aren’t very many people who are able-bodied that are out there hand-cycling.  Only a handful.   Sometimes competitors with disabilities will look at me like I’m crazy for doing this, but they also respect me because they know how hard it is. The truth though is that it’s an honor to race alongside them,” Doughtie shares. 

When Doughtie races, he tends to participate in events that benefit Multiple Sclerosis research and programs. “I chose MS as my personal cause several years ago when I learned that my best friend’s wife had been diagnosed with it. I wanted to do something to support her, but I felt powerless.  She’s like a sister to me and that’s why I decided to ride,” Doughtie explains. 

Brian has competed in 15 charity rides since 2006, and his first event was the Cox Atlanta MS Bike Ride. “The Cox Atlanta MS ride is one of my favorite annual events,” Doughtie adds. “ It’s one of the largest MS rides in the Southeast, with more than 2000 riders. This year is its 25th anniversary.  I can’t wait to hit the road with them on September 17 & 18.” 

Brian crossing the finish line in the Cox Atlanta MS Ride.

Brian crossing the finish line in the Cox Atlanta MS Ride.

UroMed is sponsoring Brian in that race as well as the upcoming Tennessee MS Ride to Jack And Back – hosted by Jack Daniels.   “The Jack and Back event is a very long ride. We’ll cover 150 miles in two days.  The cool thing is I’m one of 30 cyclists that are on the Jack Daniels team, racing with a Jack Daniels hand cycle,” Doughtie says. 

In October, Doughtie will also participate in the Camp Twin Lakes Spin for Kids. He’ll be riding on the Taco Mac sponsored team in that event. 

As he prepares for his upcoming races, Doughtie admits that hand cycling isn’t all work. “For me, it’s about being outside in nature. Getting out there on a bike gives you a workout in beautiful places. And, the plus is that my friend with MS, Lisa, appreciates it.  Lisa, her husband and my wife, Danielle, volunteer alongside me at the events,” Doughtie says with a laugh. “It turns into a family event over the weekend, and that’s a lot of fun!”

When faced with the fear of losing a friend to MS, Brian Doughtie took matters into his own hands, and began using his own strength to raise awareness and funds to fight the disease.  Looking back, Doughtie admits that he has many days where he’s sore and worn out, but that is nothing compared to what he gains. 

“After a race, you are exhausted, that’s true. But you leave with a sense of accomplishment, knowing you’re doing a good thing. It makes you feel like all the pain and effort is worthwhile.  Instead of sitting on the sidelines saying, ‘Hey, I wish I could have done something’ – you actually are.  I’m healthy enough to do something, so that’s what I’m going to do, every day until there’s a cure,” Doughtie says resolutely.

Brian keeps on pushing, along with thousands of cyclists with similar goals, who all ride in search of a cure for MS.

Brian keeps on pushing, along with thousands of cyclists with similar goals, who all ride in search of a cure for MS.

UroMed is one of the nation’s leading providers of disposable catheters, urological and continence care medical supplies.  Most of UroMed’s customers experience urological or incontinence issues due to conditions like Spinal Cord Injury, Spina Bifida, Transverse Myelitis or Multiple Sclerosis. 

Many of UroMed’s employees have a personal connection to  understanding their customers’ urinary health and incontinence needs, as 20% of UroMed’s customer care associates either has a disability or has a family member with a disabling condition.   

For more information on ways UroMed and its’ employees support the Multiple Sclerosis community, please visit: http://www.uromed.com/Company/CorporateGiving

About UroMed Catheters
Headquartered in Suwanee, GA [a suburb of Atlanta], UroMed is one of the nation’s leading providers of single-use catheters, urological and disposable medical supplies, including intermittent catheters, closed system catheters, condom catheters, pediatric catheters and continence care products. UroMed is nationally accredited for Medicare reimbursement and most state Medicaid plans, and partners with private health insurance providers and health plans to provide patients with single-use catheters, catheter kits and incontinence products. UroMed also has seven staffed regional offices located in Boston, MA; Columbia, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Dallas, TX; Carlsbad, CA; Knoxville, TN; Richmond, VA; and Baton Rouge, LA; enabling next-day delivery after a customer’s initial medical supply order. For more information, please visit http://www.uromed.com or call 1-800-841-1233.

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