Although Sharp has MS, it does not stop him from performing in his day to day activities. The Altus resident is planning to do something that most patients with MS would not dream of. On Sept. 17, he will participate in the 2005 MS Bike Tour in Tulsa.
"I do it to let all these people that are riding for MS know that I really appreciate it," Sharp said. "When you get out there and see all those people doing for other people, it kind of lends support. If they see me riding, it makes them realize the reasons they are doing it."
Sharp has seemingly always been a fighter in the war on MS. He participated in the event in 1989 and 1990 during a tour in Phoenix before knowing he had the disease.
"I did it then because I knew they needed help. The ride was in Phoenix, it was called The Best Dam Bike Get Together," Sharp said. "We rode to Parker Dam in California. People from Nevada rode at the same time. At the end, there was almost 2000 people in California."
Multiple Sclerosis affects people in different ways. For Sharp, he says that it starts from his toes and moves up to his ribcage. His body becomes numb, it affects his vision and his hearing.
This year at the Tour he will be riding with an old college roommate, Mark Washburn. He will have a map and compass and a bottle of water attached to his bike. The bike also has a cane attached to it, which will be used by Sharp after the ride is over. He plans to ride the full 150 miles over two days.
Sharp also participated in the ride last year. He and his wife Susan ride each day to prepare for the trek. She rides with him in the morning, afternoon and evening, to and from work.
Like most diseases, it's not just the individual who is effected. An entire family must deal with the situation.
When speaking about her husband, Susan's eyes swelled with tears as she talked about how proud she was of her husband for not letting the disease bring him down.
"I'm proud. I'm proud that even though he is struggling every day, he tries to exercise, to make sure he keeps on going," she said. "It is so important that he not give up, and he is not giving up. He's doing it and he's not giving up."
Sharp has worked at Boeing for the past 20 years. He and Susan have been married for 13 years and have four children. Susan said she feels that their children do not completely understand the extent of their father's disease. Sharp has to take a shot every other day that helps to fight the infection. Susan's biggest fear is that one day her husband will not be able to do the things that he normally does.
"I fear that Bob will one day become incapacitated," Susan said. "I'm starting to work and trying to make sure the kids understand."
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has organized the largest cycling event in America for the past 26 years. It has 100 tours to choose from in 48 states. This will be Oklahoma's 20th year hosting the tour. Close to 700 cyclists will ride through Northeastern Oklahoma to Camp Gruber, near Braggs.
Various rest stops are available along the way where riders and their bicycles are pampered. The cyclist will get to snack on cookies, fruit, water and Gatorade. More than 300 volunteers will be involved in the event.
Support and Gear (SAG) vehicles, which travel the route to give aid for bicyclists who need a rest, will also be present. Also, four to five bike shops will be available to repair damaged bikes. When riders reach Camp Gruber, they are fed and entertained. Jo Herring, director of development for the Oklahoma National MS Society, says the event is a fun ride for all.
"It's just fun, a lot of camaraderie," Herring said. "It's a party on wheels. The best part is that you can do all of that knowing that they are doing something for the people with MS."
The cost is $25 to register and the cyclist must collect a minimum of $200 from sponsors. For more information about the event, call 1-800-FIGHT-MS or visit www.nationalmssociety.org.
Sharp has not received the full $200 sponsorship and is in need of community support. Anyone interested in donating to Sharp can visit the Web site. There will be a link on the Web page where donations can be submitted.
"My goal is to ride the whole ride," Sharp said. "I'm going for it, that's my goal. I know it is possible to make it because I did it 10 years ago."