Every year Bentonville hosts the Trifest for MS triathlon race, to raise money for UAMS and their research efforts to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. A local woman and her family serve as the inspiration behind the creation of the annual event.
“Fight the fight and keep moving,” Jo Rampy explained as she outlined the reason she races.
She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 14 years ago. Her husband Scott remembers the impact of that day all too well.
“At the time, like many people, you’re just kinda’ like in devastation mode,” Scott Rampy described. “It’s like the world stops and you try to just get your grip on what this means for you going forward.”
The Rampys got a handle on things fairly quickly, and Jo decided MS would not be allowed to dictate how she lives her life. She proved that six years ago by completing her first triathlon.
“Don’t underestimate what you can do,” Jo Rampy read from a piece of paper. “What you can do to influence others, to encourage others and to be encouraged yourself. That’s what I said when I crossed the finish line.”
But unbeknownst to Jo Rampy, her family and friends had a plan to help her in the fight against MS.
“She [Jo Rampy] came across the finish line and celebrated with her finish,” remembered Scott Rampy. “And we presented her with this check for a thousand dollars and that’s what started the foundation.”
The Rampy MS Research Foundation was born that day and so was the largest triathlon in all of Arkansas. Trifest for MS is now an annual event that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars toward research to combat the disease. The Rampys’ daughter, Alexandra Bornkessel — who also works for the foundation — said a painting was commissioned to commemorate Jo’s trip across the finish line of that first race with her arms held up in victory.
“We use that image intentionally and purposefully because no matter what, we’re always gonna’ keep reaching,” said Bornkessel.
“Inspire others to encourage others, yeah,” Jo Rampy shared. “Because when we encourage one another, we’re encouraged ourselves.”
This year’s Trifest for MS will take place on Labor Day weekend. And if you are unable to make that race, you can join Team Endurance to help fundraise while taking part in other races.
Click here to learn more about the Rampy MS Research Foundation.