SAN DIEGO — Sometimes disease picks on the wrong person. In this Zevely Zone, I finally get to tell a story I've been chasing for years.
In 2003, Tim Salmon, a surfer in the best shape of his life suddenly felt pins and needles in his arms and legs.
"I went to a doctor, a neurologist, and he diagnosed me with MS," said Tim Salmon.
Tim went from being totally healthy to the fight of his life after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
"I got upset, I cried and I'm like 'you know what? There's two options - let MS beat me or I could rise up be strong and defeat MS,' and, of course, I chose option two," said Tim.
He says he found that the ocean was the best medicine he could find.
"It's like my church, very peaceful, very calm out there, a lot of dolphins," said Tim.
We met at Cardiff Reef - a special spot for both of us. I used to wake up for surf P.E. at this break when I was a student at San Dieguito High School.
"It's my best healing," said Tim, as he stared out at the water.
Four years after the MS diagnosis - and the worst of news - came the best: Tim married Leah, the love of his life.
"When we first got together, I told her that I had MS and she was all in. She got me a dog, a Labrador - a Labrador puppy - and that was my best healing for MS and I'm like, 'you ever ride a bicycle?' she's like 'heck no,'" Tim said laughing.
Tim decided he would not let the disease defeat him. He chose to fight MS, and started with the support of the local National MS Society - Pacific South Coast Chapter.
A good friend of his at the MS Society, Sharon Shahnazarian, introduced him to Howard's Team back in 2010, and that was it - game on. Tim joined Howard's Team and rode in the Bike MS Bay to Bay Tour. Participants of the tour ride up to 150 miles over two days supporting each other.
"These are great people who are 100% committed to find a cure for MS. With the support of my awesome and powerful wife Leah, and my new Bike MS team, I was able to ride the entire 150 miles," said Tim. "To date we have raised $1.5 million that goes toward finding the cure for MS."
I met Tim about five years ago at the Wave Goodbye to MS event and have been bugging him for all of that time to let me tell his story. I finally got to follow him into the water. With smiles on both of our faces, I followed Tim into the water with my camera.
Tim received a grant from the Challenged Athletes Foundation to buy a special light weight paddleboard. Along with going to the beach, Tim battles MS with the medication COPAXONE, but he still says his best medicine is coming from 'vitamin sea'!
If you visit Tim's Facebook page you will see him surfing, SCUBA diving, paddling and also dressed up in nice suits. Tim knows the money he's raising may not help him directly, but says just the thought of finding a cure for future generations is worth the discomfort of going from board shorts to the board room at galas.
"Yes, I clean up well, I get out of the surf suit and clean up nice once a year," said Tim. "And if I were to totally honest, you know, it's really tough living with MS. I would never want to have MS but now that I am diagnosed with MS, it's truly one of the best things that's ever happened to me in life."
Instead of giving up, the very next day after his diagnosis, Tim decided to make some waves when he went surfing with his brother.
"We just developed the MS battle plan we said you know what multiple sclerosis doesn't sound like a good word so we just called it 'more surf disease, " said Tim laughing.
It should be clear to you why I've been chasing this story for years. Tim is an inspiration.
Riders of all abilities are welcome to join Howard's Team. Tim said, "By joining our team you will meet many new friends, share great stories, be inspired, and most likely experience some of the best times of your life!" For more information click here.