PITTSBURG — Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease which attacks the central nervous system, which includes numbness of the limbs to paralysis.
Bicyclists from the group Bike the US for MS are traveling from Yorktown, Virginia, to Pittsburg to raise awareness of the disease. They will arrive in Pittsburg on Tuesday and be greeted by
community members and a local MS group, Hope for MS Foundation.
The bicyclists will work on a community service project at the Everybody Plays playground at Schlanger Park during their “rest day.” After their stay, the cyclists will ride to San Francisco, making for a total of 3,785 mile trip, which is to take 62 days.
This is just one of several routes they take in the U.S., another is in the United Kingdom and there is an option for individuals to go on their own route on their own time.
Bike the US for MS is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization which raises money for research and treatment for people with MS. It also provides free services for people battling MS. The group raises money by each member paying $1 per mile during the main routes. There are currently 17 cyclists and four route leaders about to travel through Pittsburg aged 18 to 71.
One of the bicyclists, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, resident Fred Zelt, said most of the riders are know someone affected by MS in their lives and all the riders, despite starting in Virginia, come from all over the country. He said people are welcome to join the group when they leave Pittsburg. Bicyclists will need to be able to ride at least 60 miles a day, and will be considered a “segment rider.” Segment riders pay $2 a mile.
“Being together for 62 days is really great because you become good friends with these people,” Zelt said.
The bicyclists will rest at the Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday and Wednesday. Members of the Hope for MS Foundation along with community volunteers will provide the accommodations and meals for the group, Volunteer Coordinator Gina Peak said.
“This is just one of our ways to give back and let them know we appreciate them,” Peak said.
There will be a reception open to the public at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the auditorium where people can meet and greet the bicyclists, while learning about their cause.
Peak, who also battles with MS, said she appreciates the group’s cause and encourages people to visit the bicyclists during the reception or if they are seen around town.
This, however, is not the first time the Bike the US for MS group had made an appearance in Pittsburg. Since 2009, they rode their bikes halfway across the United States and stopped in Pittsburg.
In the past, in partnership with the Hope for MS Foundation the group funded a bathroom remodel in Girard and have assisted with other community services such as painting and yard work. Bike the US for MS group does a community service projects for people with MS along the route.
When out helping individuals with MS during “rest days,” Zelt said he had the opportunity to hear people's’ stories about battling MS and he looks forward to meeting more people as he reaches the midwest. Strangers too, have made an impact, he said, supporting their cause and being kind to the group.
“There’s always bad stuff on the TV, but when you get up and out here there are so many good people,” he said. “It’s a very powerful thing.”
People can keep up with the group’s journey on their Facebook page TransAm 2018- Bike the US for MS. They can also learn more about organization and MS at http://biketheusforms.org/
Facts about MSMS is a chronic, unpredictable neurological disease that affects the central nervous system. MS is not contagious and is not directly inherited. MS is not considered a fatal disease. The majority of people with MS do not become severely disabled. There is no cure for MS yet, but drugs can help slow the course and/or symptoms in some patients.
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— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.