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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A plan, a purpose, a cause. Two students band together to race against MS

Timothy Lai — THE BATTALION
Economics junior Brandon Loughridge and environmental design junior Tyler Blanton are training for an Ironman in honor of their friend diagnosed with MS.
Timothy Lai — THE BATTALION Economics junior Brandon Loughridge and environmental design junior Tyler Blanton are training for an Ironman in honor of their friend diagnosed with MS.

For close to a year, two Texas A&M students have trained vigorously to compete in the Texas Ironman to honor a friend with multiple sclerosis — and raise money for MS research while they’re at it.
Trace Sherer, a 52-year-old lawyer in The Woodlands, Texas, was diagnosed with MS in 1999. While his health has since deteriorated, he continues to stay active and said he finds bike riding to be one of the best things for his condition.
The Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon. Economics junior Brandon Loughridge said the decision to undertake the challenge came when he and environmental design junior Tyler Blanton realized Trace could no longer manage it physically.
Loughridge, who went to high school with Sherer’s son, met Sherer his senior year and began riding various races with him and other friends.
In April, Sherer competed with Loughridge and Blanton in the MS 150, a two-day fundraising bike ride from Houston to Austin organized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
As the two continued to get to know Sherer, they learned that his goal was to compete in an Ironman competition.
“It was right after the MS 150, [Sherer] took us out to dinner, we were sitting there and he just started talking about how he’s always wanted to do an Ironman,” Loughridge said. “It didn’t take long once he said that — it just started rolling in my head.”
Loughridge and Blanton gave the idea some thought, eventually deciding to begin training to compete in the Ironman in Sherer’s honor.
The two will compete in the May race as “Team Inspiration Texas,” a non-profit organization started by Sherer to raise awareness of the condition. Whatever they spend on training for the event, Loughridge said they want to donate three times as much to MS research, with a goal of $15,000.
But while the Ironman is just one race, Loughridge said they wouldn’t stop there.
“I just told [Sherer] the other day, if we don’t raise everything this year I’m not giving up until we do it,” Loughridge said. “So basically, I’ve already committed myself for next year if we don’t hit our goal.”
Blanton said the experience has put things into perspective for him.
“Training for someone like Trace, it’s given us a lot of insight into fighting for life on an everyday basis,” Blanton said. “I think we can learn a lot from people like Trace and the people we’re racing for because they’re so positive in such a negative situation. They don’t become victims of their situation, which is really inspiring and why we do it.”
Sherer said it is difficult to put into words the impact of Loughridge and Blanton’s decision to race for him.
“First of all, they’re incredible young men,” Sherer said. “For them, at their age, to have the level of compassion they have, not only for me but anyone facing a challenge — there are absolutely no words. They’re taking something on for me and really doing it for me. One thing I’ve noticed is they haven’t done one iota of this for personal recognition.”
Loughridge said riding with and getting to know Trace has taught him how to value life and shown him the impact people can have when they work together.
“What are the things we should fight for and what are the things we should just let go?” Loughridge said. “I think the greatest thing we’ve learned is to learn to fight for each other and just walk with each other through different avenues of life. It’s been fun.”

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