The Not MS Ride Wrap Up

Normally this time of year, I would be writing a post-mortem blog post about our recently completed MS Ride: Waves to Wine charity event in support of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. That’s because for the past seven years, Topel & DiStasi Wealth Management has sponsored a small team of clients and friends on their annual bike ride to raise awareness and money for the society and its work. It’s a difficult yet beautiful ride over two days that travels through some of the most gorgeous roads in all of Northern California, and is something that we work hard to put together, and really look forward to each year.

Of course, this year we were unable to participate, as there was no MS Ride due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and I’m finding that I really feel the loss of not being able to participate this time around. Now I certainly have enough perspective to realize that, in the grand scheme of things, with all that’s going on and the very real losses being felt by folks out there right now, this is a truly minor inconvenience. But it got me thinking that although we are still able to contribute and fundraise for causes we care about, charitable organizations must be feeling the economic pinch, just as so many others are; and that even for those who have remained financially stable, there must be quite a few who are feeling the loss of not being able to participate in events like this all over the world.

And it’s not that the MS Society is any more or less deserving than any other charity out there; it’s just something that spoke to me many years ago, when I first heard about the MS Ride. It is, of course, partly due to my family’s history with the disease that I chose to get involved, and I’m sure the fact that the event is centered around riding a bike, which I love to do, had a lot to do with it as well. But what’s missing this year is not just the satisfaction of raising money for a cause you care about. You can always do that if you’re fortunate enough or willing to spend the time. No, the reason philanthropy in general, and specifically, getting involved with these types of larger events is so meaningful, is about something else. It’s the collective effort, the camaraderie, the shared stories of perseverance, and the people that make it so enriching. Perhaps that’s what this is really all about; the fact that I, like so many others right now, am lamenting the loss of interacting with people.

I don’t know why I chose to put my thoughts about our inability to participate in this year’s ride on (virtual) paper today. It’s definitely not what I intended to write about, and I realize it is certainly not in line with our typical financially oriented content. But I suppose that’s the thing about having a blog to write each month. Sometimes you just sit down to write and something comes out that you didn’t expect. Maybe it’s good just to know that we’re all going through similar things these days, even if they’re as small and insignificant as feeling the loss of a bike ride you like to take with good people every year.

Perhaps knowing that everyone is likely going through at least some small measure of angst or sadness or loss, and for some, much more than that, will allow us to cut each other a little slack in our day-to-day interactions, as the weight of the pandemic and all we’re missing continues to burden us all. And maybe, if we’re thinking really optimistically, all of that good energy which we’re not able to put toward events like the MS Ride right now can be harnessed towards healing what seems like an ever-more-divided country, and elevating the public discourse going forward.

I suppose that might be too much to ask for, and is certainly beyond my qualifications to figure out. But I do know this: I remain confident that one day not too far from now, this pandemic, and the dark days