Q&A: Adam Wozny, award-winning multiple sclerosis activist
November 2, 2012
Weinberg freshman Adam Wozny received the Community Event Volunteer of the Year Award on Oct. 20 from the greater Illinois chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Wozny was chosen for the award after biking 500 miles from downstate Cairo, Ill. to the Wisconsin border in honor of his mother, who suffers from MS. Wozny raised $4,500 through Miles for MS, a charity he founded in January.
Wozny spoke with The Daily about his 13-day bike ride and the personal connection to MS that prompted him to take action.
The Daily Northwestern: Why did you decide to bike ride?
Adam Wozny: I had never actually biked that much of a sizable distance until I had maybe done about 10 miles consecutively without stopping. And I had this crazy idea sometime during my junior year in high school that I could do this bike ride. It just came to me one day, but I never had the means to put it in motion, and by the time it got to being my second semester senior year, I kind of realized I had always wanted to do this.
The Daily: How did you feel during the ride?
Wozny: The first day was really exhausting. It was kind of a big shock. I had never biked that many miles in that long of a time period. The most I had trained with was a 40 to 50 mile ride, and suddenly I was doing an 80 mile ride on a 80 degree day. And it was mostly uphill, which was really difficult because in Chicago, we don’t have that many hills to train on ... but it was a lot of fun.
The Daily: Can you tell me about the charity you decided to start for the ride?
Wozny: I actually chose to start it because I hadn’t really shown my mom that I cared that she had MS. I had tried to kind of set it aside and hope that as a coping mechanism, it would go away by itself. But realizing that I was heading away to college, I definitely wanted to show her that I cared somehow and that was my one big push. My big way to show her.
The Daily: Do you remember the day you found out that your mom had MS?
Wozny: It was really stressful. I didn’t see it happen firsthand. But she had a vertigo attack and my dad had called an ambulance. He was of course freaking out. And once she was taken care of and taken to the hospital, he decided to wake me up. And together we headed to the hospital around midnight. Which was as a first grader, it was terrifying. It was really stressful that first week because no one knew what was wrong with her.
The Daily: What would be your words of wisdom for Northwestern students after doing the ride?
Wozny: No matter how crazy of an idea you have, if you show people that you are really ready to perserve and you truly believe in that idea, then people will come together to make it happen. They will really support you.