The daytime Emmy-winning actor turns the spotlight on multiple sclerosis and bikes 100 miles to help find a cure.
Shemar Moore, who plays Derek Morgan on the hit CBS show Criminal Minds, is a busy man. Healthline caught up with him between shooting an episode of the show and live-tweeting the Season 9 premiere Wednesday night. He spoke candidly about his mother, Marilyn, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1998, and his upcoming Bike MS ride with the Criminal Minds team.
Fiercely devoted to his mom, Moore describes her as, “strong-willed … courageous, and endearing, with a lot of ambition and a big heart.” Marilyn celebrated her 70th birthday earlier this year with a big family get together arranged by Moore, which included an impromptu visit from fellow cast member Joe Mantegna.
When his mother was diagnosed with MS, it hit Moore hard. “At first her symptoms were so slight, I just thought she could take some aspirin or go get a shot or something and it would just go away,” Moore recalls. “I didn’t know what MS was. I thought maybe she was over-dramatizing it. It took awhile to come to grips with this … happening to her and affecting her life and her body.”
Moore reflects on her struggles with fatigue, overheating, and numbness in her hands and feet. “She’s my Super Woman. It’s hard to see someone that you put on such a pedestal crack. She’ll never be broken, because she’s just way too strong-willed and hard-headed. But she’s human. She has her down days.”
Moore is a big part of the support team that allows her to live independently.
“State of mind [is key] for people with MS,” says Moore. “I was blessed to buy her a condo in Redondo Beach [Calif.] about two years ago. She loves the ocean, and she gets to look at the dolphins and watch the whales come in.”
“She gets to see the sweaty men playing volleyball and we joke about that,” he laughs. “But it lifts her spirits. She knows she’s loved by me. She knows that [we all] make it a point to lift her up and make sure she’s loved and thought about and fought for.”
He attributes her positive frame of mind to the fact that Marilyn can still participate in the activities she loves, like going to the movies, watching Dodgers and Giants baseball games, and getting pampered at the salon. “She’s swimming, she’s doing yoga, and she can still get up and about,” Moore says.
There are many retired people in her community, says Moore, “so she has a like-minded demographic of people to hang out with and it keeps her happy. The happier she is, the less she dwells on any pain or symptoms, unless they’re severe.”
Moore is leveraging his fame to help not just Marilyn, but all those suffering from MS, by raising money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS).
The weekend of October 12th and 13th will find Moore pedaling 100 miles in the Bike MS event for the NMSS. In preparation, he’s been riding his bike to work and back every day, logging 32 miles round trip, with longer, more challenging weekend jaunts.
Some friends will be joining him for the first time this year, Moore says. “They’re very athletic, but you can lift weights or play football or basketball and it’s not the same as riding a bike, the endurance you need.”
In addition to building up his endurance, Moore’s, ahem, derriere has had to get used to spending many hours on a narrow bike seat. “There’s a muscle in your butt you have to break in because when you first get on the seat it’s quite an experience,” he says with a laugh. “Your little ‘man-situation’ gets dealt with and your butt bones start aching. It’s kind of funny to see grown men in tights sitting on these little seats, questioning their sexuality.”
But it’s all to raise awareness and funding for a good cause.
His Baby Girl clothing line is another way for Moore to raise money for MS research. His website sells clothing, posters, and photo books, all of which fans are eager to buy. “A large percentage of the profit goes to fight MS—none of it’s going into my pocket. It’s a fun way to give back, and I’m able to interact with my fans.”
As for the new season of Criminal Minds, Moore says there will be a new addition to the show to take the place of Erin Strauss, and one episode in which you’ll watch Hotch revisit his past, see his wife and child in flashback scenes, and attempt to find closure—or not.
Morgan, Moore’s character, may have a love interest, and you’ll finally see glimpses of some of the characters’ lives outside their FBI personas. Referring to Morgan, Moore says, “You’ve never seen him with his hair down… in his off-the-clock life.”
Asked if he had a message for those with MS, Moore says, “Know every day you get up is a blessing. Don’t apologize for anything. Spoil yourself… and know there are people out there—beyond myself—fighting on your behalf, trying to find a cure for this disease so you can live longer, happier, healthier lives. As long as you’re fighting, we’re going to fight along with you.”
To learn how you can help the Criminal Minds Bike MS team reach their fundraising goal, please visit their team page.