by Jeff Cutler
Russell Scott is a cyclist. Since his first cycling century at age 13, he hasn’t looked back and has spent more hours on a bike than many of us can fathom. In fact, to say Scott has had brushes with fame would be selling him short. Just looking at the 1986 media guide for the 7-Eleven Racing Team is a testament to Scott’s early career.
Names like Frankie Andreu, Bob Roll, Davis Phinney, Eric Heiden and Chris Carmichael jump out at you. Scott actually came up through the amateur ranks with Andreu and was invited to ride with the Senior Men’s Team – the first U.S. bicycle racing team to race in the Tour de France. Though Scott never raced in it, Andreu went on to race the Tour multiple times in his career.
The challenge of trying to make a pro cycling squad was huge, but Scott’s current challenge isn’t one presented by killer hills, equipment failures or even cycling opponents. Russell Scott is racing against time as he struggles with Multiple Sclerosis.
Diagnosed in April 1991, Scott had actually been fighting the disease for a number of years on the bike but didn’t realize the significance of a variety of events.
From 1984-1986, Scott saw spots when riding. Multiple eye exams resulted in no diagnosis and he attributed the spots to the extreme effort of climbing hills. He figured if other racers didn’t see spots, they must not have been putting out as much effort.
Other events/situations included Scott’s reduced reaction time to events on the road, occasional squirrelly riding and three crashes in 1986. He also noticed that in some races where he used to be able to catch a breakaway, he didn’t have the power. Though he started to have some difficulties on the bike, even after the diagnosis he didn’t believe the doctors.
“My first reaction was that the doctor didn’t know what he was talking about,” said Scott. “I was an athlete. I had faith in God. I was 24 years old. My life was just beginning, and I was about to get married.”
It took until a dramatic loss of arm function in 1992 for Scott to face reality.
“I never believed I had MS – even after my diagnosis. I sincerely believed that I was healthy, and I figured the doctors were just wrong,” said Scott. “God wouldn’t let that happen to me because, at the peak of my cycling career, I had gone on a mission to help people to better understand Christ and our relationship with Him.”
The diagnosis was true. Scott explains the timetable like this…
Late 1992, before his first child was to be born, Scott was in denial and focused on over-working my body at the gym; he was working out with weights like never before and as a result, his left arm stopped working; ignoring the MS diagnosis was a pattern, but after that experience, he began to worry a bit more; though he has continued to move forward, the MS has gradually eaten away at his body.
“I had MS, it was difficult, it may have ended my Olympic dreams, but it wasn’t stopping me from things like having a family or starting law school,” said Scott.
MS didn’t stop Russell Scott from achieving a lot, but his disease has prevented him from continuing his law career and has put an end to his cycling achievements. Now, unable to walk, Scott is asking for your help. He’s hoping for stem cell treatment that might be a golden bullet in stopping the disease’s progression.
While the treatments appear to be helping a large number of MS patients, they’re not currently covered by insurance. Scott says they’re more promising than any approved medication he has tried since 1993, so he’s looking ahead with hope.
“My current FDA treatment is a once a month infusion,” said Scott. “In the past, treatment has been everything from a cheapest price for cialis daily injection, a bi-weekly injection, a weekly injection, and a quarterly infusion. The new stem cell treatments are possibly a once in a lifetime extraction of some of my bone marrow stem cells and then an infusion into a different area of my body where the stem cells can better perform their healing abilities.”
With this in mind, Scott’s goal – both through charity organizations and an upcoming yard sale – is to raise $25,000 for the procedure. With that treatment, he hopes to be able to live a fuller life. He might not get back on a bike again, but he’s treating this fight as if it’s the century he first rode as a teenager in 1980.
To help out, there are two charity efforts. The first is a YouCaring site – where people can donate online to a fund for Russell.
The other is a garage sale in Austin’s Circle C Ranch. Scott’s wife Teresa provided TBR with details.
“Come out to our garage sale Saturday, April 12 in Circle C Ranch (6506 Needham Lane, Austin, TX 78739) and purchase some great items or donate items for us to sell,” she said. “At the garage sale you can also pick up a flyer which explains our cause and has our donation site listed. We would really appreciate if others would share our youcaring.com/russellscott donation site on their social media where anyone can donate via paypal.”
If you have questions about the garage sale or have items to donate please contact Teresa Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the whole family and community behind him, Russell Scott is trying to win one more race.