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02/02/2015

Band Against MS bike ride helping raise money to end the disease.

HOCKLEY, Texas (FOX 26) - Country music superstar Clay Walker can certainly draw a crowd, but it wasn't his performance that attracted more than a thousand cyclists in the Houston area -- it was his foundation.

Walker isn't just the founder of Band Against MS.

"Every year, it's getting bigger and bigger," explains Walker. "This is our third year."

Walker was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis almost two decades ago.

"I was diagnosed here in Houston 19 years ago," says Walker with a smile. "I've actually been in complete remission for 17 years in a row. I'm very blessed."

And he's trying to bless others.

The big Band Against MS bike ride raises money to fight the illness.

"We've been able to raise a couple million dollars through our charity," adds Walker. "Just about every penny of that stays right here in the Houston area for research for MS."

"This will be the first time I've ridden, ever," says Jeff Armbruster, who was diagnosed with MS in 2009. "I felt like the loneliest person on the planet. I've done the one mile at the Walk MS Houston in a wheelchair. When the family goes to the zoo, the family goes to NASA, I take my wheelchair with me. It's only been in the last year and a half that I've been able to get up out of the wheelchair."

So many with multiple sclerosis are doing so well thanks to amazing medical breakthroughs.

"Treatments before would put people in bed for a week at a time and they wouldn't even want to get out of the dark and now treatment has come so far because of events like this with research dollars where people are living more of a normal life, says FOX 26 anchor and medical reporter Melissa Wilson.

"I took an injection every day for the past 17 years which has helped me stay relapse free," explains Walker. "Last year, the medication I take became available three times a week."

At the start of the 2014 charity bike ride, Walker took that first new treatment. He now takes 208 less injections every year.

"You average that up over 17 years and that's a lot of shots," says Walker. "I just feel so blessed."

Wilson is taking part in the event for the second time, riding her super cute pink-handlebar bicycle.

"Thank you," laughs Wilson. "You got to have the pink handle bars because otherwise it would be hard to ride without them.

"Someone mentioned rain and I said it, 'Don't rain on us!" It held true," smiles Walker.

As more than a thousand people gathered in Hockley for the big ride, it was clear why the crowd came together.

"I want to find a cure and I want to end this stupid disease forever," says Armbruster.

Walker parked his bike shortly after crossing the starting line and slapped hands with riders as they pedaled by.

"I like to stop and high five people as they come by," says Walker. "It feels good to feel that energy."


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