Shemar Moore, best known as FBI special agent Derek Morgan on the hit television drama Criminal Minds and previously as Malcolm Winters on The Young and the Restless, bikes for fun, for exercise, and most of all to raise funds and awareness for multiple sclerosis, a disease his mother has. March is MS Awareness Month, and Moore took a well-timed break to talk about his mom and his commitment to cycling for a good cause.
Nine years ago, Marilyn Wilson-Moore, who divorced early from Moore's father and as a single mother raised her son, was diagnosed with MS. She's one of 400,000 Americans -- one diagnosed every hour -- who battle this disease, which can cause blurred vision, slurred speech, loss of balance, and paralysis. "There was fear in not knowing or believing it could happen," Moore, who turns 38 in April, says of her condition in its early stages, including the possibility of increased dependence on a wheelchair. "You think your parents are invincible."
Although he has long enjoyed biking, it wasn't until Moore joined the cast of CBS's Criminal Minds in 2005 that crew members introduced him to competitive cycling. Since then, he and a team of 60 from the show have hit the road each fall, in the Southern California Start to Finish MS Bike Tour -- one of 100 rides nationwide that brought in awareness and funds for MS. The 2007 tour raised more than $700,000 for MS research and programs. He plans to bike again in the 2008 event, Sept. 20â21.
"I can chase my dream of acting but use what I built to get people to take notice and create an awareness of [it]," says Moore. "I wasn't aware of it until it hit home. Now, I'm asking people out of the goodness of their hearts to dig in their pockets to give back to people who can't defend themselves. ... I'm riding a bicycle on behalf of them."