St. Charles cyclist dies after collapsing during Bike MS event

  • Jeff Ruhl, right, poses with Joe Kresach, left, and Markos Dumlija on Saturday at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb, where they were riding in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Greater Illinois Chapter's Tour de Farms charity bike ride. Ruhl died during the ride Sunday.

    Jeff Ruhl, right, poses with Joe Kresach, left, and Markos Dumlija on Saturday at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb, where they were riding in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Greater Illinois Chapter's Tour de Farms charity bike ride. Ruhl died during the ride Sunday. Courtesy of Markos Dumlija

 
 
Updated 6/29/2015 7:08 PM

Joe Kresach could describe his friend and cycling teammate Jeff Ruhl in many ways: an excellent snow and water skier, an avid bike rider, a lover of hiking and camping.

But most importantly, Ruhl was a husband, a father, a grandfather and a dedicated friend, Kresach said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Ruhl, 56, of St. Charles died Sunday after he collapsed while riding in Bike MS: Tour de Farms 2015, a weekend-long biking event in DeKalb hosted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Ruhl was on the second day of the 150-mile ride with his team, LoBaMa, which stands for Lorie, Barbara and Marie, two wives and a mother of the team's three founders.

During the event, Ruhl had been riding closely with two of his 16 teammates uphill before he lost consciousness and fell, said Jeremy Barewin, vice president of marketing and communications for the Illinois chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Medical personnel arrived and administered CPR, Barewin said, and Ruhl was then taken to Kishwaukee Hospital in DeKalb.

The DeKalb County coroner's office could not be reached Sunday.

Kresach and Ruhl grew up together in South suburban Hazel Crest. He called Ruhl "a dedicated friend with a number of friendships going back 50 years."

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Ruhl had participated in the Tour de Farms many times over the last 15 years, Barewin said. This year, he added, LoBaMa had collectively raised $9,350 for Bike MS, which will go toward statewide MS research and programs and services for those affected by the disease.

"We appreciate all that Jeff did for people living with MS through his participation in Bike MS this weekend, as well as in previous years," said Holly Messick, president of the Illinois chapter.

Messick, who joined the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in December, said she never had the pleasure of getting to know Ruhl, though she was able to spend time with his loved ones Sunday.

"I know he must have been a pretty incredible man to have so many wonderful people in his life," she said. "My heart is breaking for all of them."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Barewin said the National Multiple Sclerosis Society plans to honor Ruhl's memory by retiring his jersey number, No. 1605.

"The Bike MS event is really a large community of people that are connected to the MS movement that come together every year," Barewin said. "This is a loss for the entire MS community, and we certainly extend our sympathies and well wishes to the entire family."

• Daily Herald staff writer Neil Holdway contributed to this report.

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