GIRARD — On their 3,785 mile journey, cyclists with Bike the US for MS cyclists stopped by a Girard resident’s house for a service project.

The group began their ride in Yorktown, Virginia and will end it in San Francisco, California.
Bike the U.S. for MS (a 501(c)3 non-profit) has sponsored this nearly 4,000 mile ride comprised of volunteer cyclists from all over the country since 2007.

Each bicyclist fundraises $1 per mile which goes toward the trip expenses, direct financial assistance for individuals living with multiple sclerosis and research treatment facilities.

During the cyclists’ “rest days” they take on a community service project for a person — or several people — living with MS.

The group — comprised of a little over 20 people — arrived Wednesday in Pittsburg, and on Thursday made a visit to Girard resident Marcia Taylor’s home.

“I really thank them a lot,” Taylor said. “I’m overwhelmed, I really am overwhelmed.”

Before getting started on the project, the cyclists gathered in Taylor’s living room to listen to her story and to share why they have decided to ride their bikes across the United States.

Taylor shared with them how it all began and how her life has been affected.

In approximately 1993, Taylor was teaching kindergarten at R.V. Haderlein Elementary in Girard.
While remodeling her home, Taylor noticed her eyesight had changed — she thought she was going blind — and she was feeling fatigued.

These are two of the many symptoms someone with MS may have, Taylor said, however not all people’s symptoms are the same, she added.

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease which attacks the central nervous system, which could include numbness of the limbs to paralysis.

Taylor said she is “blessed” for having a “great and supportive” husband, whose name is Mark, and children.

Taylor has a difficult time picking things up and relies on some help from family to do things such as making sandwiches, she said.

However, despite having some limited mobility and using a wheelchair, she still walks eight miles a week during physical therapy. It’s sheer determination and perhaps her personality which pushes her to keep active, she said.

The cyclists met many people like Taylor on their trip, and expressed how remarkable they found their stories.

One of the cyclists, Mary Fanelli Lund of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, said she thought the Bike the US for MS organization was a “great opportunity” to go from the East to the West.
“I always wanted to go cross country, but I wanted to go for a reason — something bigger than myself,” she said.

Another cyclist, a recent university graduate named Gaby Stamps, came to the U.S. from London just for the trip. Stamps too, said that she had always wanted to cross the states by bike. Knowing little of MS, she took the opportunity and was moved by the people she met.
“There are so many inspiring people that have shared their stories with us,” Stamps said.

Jim and Martha Gullo, a husband and wife duo from Williamsburg, Virginia, rode in tandem knocking out a bucket list item of going from East to West coast on their bike. The two have friends who live with MS, and when it was time — as empty nesters and now retired — the two signed up with Bike the US for MS.
“It’s been very humbling to know what a limited thing we can do to help others while we are riding our bike across the country,” Martha Gullo said. “To know that people are appreciative and are inspired by what we are doing.”

Her husband agreed.
“We do a lot of bike riding, but this is the only one that actually means something to help somebody,” Jim Gullo said. “We are actually meeting people who are benefiting from what we are doing.”

The woman behind it all, at least in Pittsburg, is Gina Peak who is from the local chapter of the Hope for MS Foundation. She helped coordinate the service project, fed the guests — home cooked meals and donated meals from local businesses —and helped find a place to rest in partnership with Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium.
“I’m blown away,” Peak said about the support of businesses in Pittsburg.

She said the group of cyclists have been great guests.

Next stop: Chanute.