Tanya and Amelia Nordhaus are planning a bike-a-thon fundraiser for multiple sclerosis support and research.

Tanya and Amelia Nordhaus are planning a bike-a-thon fundraiser for multiple sclerosis support and research.

Photo by Jonathan Shead


Farmington Hills 7-year-old’s bike-a-thon to raise money for MS

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published May 15, 2019

 Amelia Nordhaus shows off her skateboard, which she said she might ride at this year’s event instead of her bike.

Amelia Nordhaus shows off her skateboard, which she said she might ride at this year’s event instead of her bike.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

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FARMINGTON HILLS — Ever since she was born, Amelia Nordhaus, now 7, of Farmington Hills, has been around people who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis — including her mother, Tanya Nordhaus.

Together, the family has attended various events throughout the years, such as the Mid-Michigan Bike MS ride and MS fundraising auctions. Two years ago, at the age of 5, Amelia decided she wanted to do something herself to help out.

That’s when she created Amelia’s Little Bike-a-Thon for MS. Now in the event’s third year, Amelia is gearing up again to host her bike-a-thon at 4 p.m. May 18 at Kenbrook Elementary School to raise money and awareness for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Children 9 and younger are invited to attend.

MS is a chronic disease that damages the sheaths of a person’s nerve cells in their brain and spinal cord, which can cause numbness, impaired speech or impaired muscle coordination, blurry vision and severe fatigue.

“My mommy has multiple ‘elerosis,’ and I’m trying to have a bike ride to stop multiple ‘elerosis,’” Amelia said at the inaugural event, before she could even properly pronounce the word “sclerosis.”

Amelia chose to host her own bike-a-thon, because biking runs in her family.

“It’s my favorite sport and my parents’ favorite sport, so it’s like the whole family’s favorite sport,” she said, though this year she’s thinking about switching out her bike for her skateboard, because it will allow her to be more aerodynamic, she said.

Each year, the event includes a bike track set up by Amelia, as well as pizza, trophies, an awards ceremony and participation medals, all of which the Nordhaus family pays for themselves. Trophies are awarded for the most orange spirit — the color associated with MS awareness — the highest-fundraising child, the best decorated bike, the best smile and more. Aside from the trophies, Amelia said, she likes to give out participation medals so “no one would feel left out or bad if they didn’t get one.”

In the last two years, Amelia and her mother have hosted the event. Along with running a lemonade stand each summer, Amelia has raised $2,600 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This year, her goal is to raise $10 million.

Regardless of whether Amelia reaches her goal, Amelia’s mother explained that they’ve already been able to see the positive impact she’s had on those diagnosed with the disease.

“She really is making an impact on multiple sclerosis, because she brings knowledge of the disease to people who wouldn’t know about it otherwise, because she knows all about it, and she’s raised enough money to provide approximately 26 newly diagnosed people care packages,” said Tanya.

Through this whole process, Tanya said, Amelia has learned kindness, generosity, the value of friendship and how it can help others, and a whole lot of determination to get the job done — values Tayna knows Amelia will continue to carry her whole life.

At the end of the day, Amelia is simply happy to ride bikes with her friends and classmates, eat pizza and help out a good cause.

Parents and children interested in attending the event must RSVP with Tanya Nordhaus at BikeAmelia@gmail.com, as well as bring their own helmet.

Tayna will provide participants with pledge sheets and waivers. People unable to attend but who would still like to contribute to Amelia’s cause can do so by visiting www.main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/AmeliaN19.

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