Introducing MS Champion Tom Gibbs

Howard’s Team is pleased to welcome Tom Gibbs to the team as our newest MS Champion.  Here’s his story told in his own words.

Valentine’s Day 2004, Seattle, Washington: I sat with my wife at a restaurant, fearful of reaching for my glass and utensils on the table. It was that day that I first had a sudden onset of severe tingling and extreme numbness causing a dramatic loss of control in my arms. Thinking I had a pinched nerve, I contacted a chiropractor. After my adjustment, the following day I woke up to my symptoms being worse and spreading to my legs. I called the chiropractor and blamed him for “messing me up even more”. Even though they were supposed to be closed, he invited me back to his office the following day. Skeptical and apprehensive, I agreed, but when I arrived, he immediately sat me down. He told me that what he did could not have impacted my legs in any way, and he said to me, “Tom, I think you have MS.”

He put me on a quick path of getting diagnosed, and consequently, receiving the care I needed. Ultimately, he was right, and I am forever grateful for him. About 2 weeks later, my diagnosis was officially confirmed, and about 3 weeks after that, I welcomed my first daughter into the world. Life felt overwhelming to say the least. But in a follow-up meeting with my first neurologist, he took note of my fear, put his hands on my shoulders, looked me square in the eyes and said “Tom, this is not a death sentence…but it will be your fight.” From that moment, I resolved to not let MS define, decide, or dictate anything in my life. This life would still be MY story to write.

I quickly found myself in a new world of people to meet and things to do: the MS Society, Walk MS, neurologists and naturopaths, you name it, I was doing it…but there was one thing that gave me a particularly special stoke: Bike MS. I did my first ride that year. I loved the physical and mental challenge the ride gave me, and it ended up foreshadowing many more joyous years to come. Since then, I have not only welcomed 3 more children into the world with my amazing wife, but I ended up becoming captain of “The Mutineers”. Our mission: To mutiny MS through Bike MS events. We would not allow our lives to be led by MS as the captain. We would mutiny MS and take back command of our lives. Our goal: “Philanthropia via Pirata”…philanthropy by way of the pirate. But as the only thing consistent in life is change…change was on the horizon for the Gibbs.

In 2017, my family traded the Pacific Northwest for Southern California and since then, my involvement in the MS community has waned…until recently when a dear friend sent me a LinkedIn post about some crazy guy in the area hosting a “Cocktails for a Cure” MS event. Now most anyone can surmise that the quickest way to a pirate’s heart is through a good cocktail, but being that this pirate is also especially fond of kicking a little MS booty, I felt shamelessly compelled to reach out and see who that crazy guy was. Insert Jay McCabe here.

Jay became an immediate friend and mentor. I am immensely grateful to him for not welcoming me with open arms, but rather, pulling me in with welcoming arms into this new community called “Howard’s Team”. He quickly introduced me to many new folks, like the OG MS Champ, Tim Salmon, who seems like he could be a big brother from a previous life and who has already been inspiring me to rekindle the fire to fight MS with all the passion and resolve that I once had. All in all, I’m already thankful to Howard’s Team for bringing me aboard and I’m ready to serve amongst the ranks of this new crew and again continue my mutiny against MS, albeit under a new flag…

Go Howard’s Team!

Tom Gibbs
The “Mutineer” MS Champ