By: Joshua Danker-Dake | Category: Other | Issue: August 2009
The 24th annual Bike MS Oklahoma Ride takes place September 26-27 and is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the National MS Society Oklahoma Chapter.
On Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27, the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society will host its 24th annual Bike MS Oklahoma Ride. “The ride is one big, fun time,” says Blaine King, the Oklahoma Chapter’s development manager. “This is our biggest fundraiser of the year. The money we raise goes to provide services and programs for people with MS, as well as to research to try to find a cure for MS.”
Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease of the central nervous system. It breaks down myelin, the material that coats nerve fibers; this breakdown interrupts the flow of nerve transmissions, which in turn leads to a variety of problems including numbness and tingling, difficulty walking, fatigue, blindness, and paralysis. According to the National MS Society, 400,000 Americans suffer from the disease.
The National MS Society raised $420,000 at last year’s ride; this year their goal is $500,500. Over the past several years they’ve averaged about 700 cyclists; for 2009 they expect over 1,000.
The two-day ride will begin in Tulsa, pause for the night at Tillman Park in Chandler, and end at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City, all along historic Route 66. In fact, the Oklahoma Route 66 Association has made the Bike MS Oklahoma Ride their official Route 66 Bike Ride. “This event could become a major tourist attraction,” says King. “Route 66 is such a pop culture draw, and there are so many attractions on the route.”
Blaine King, development manager for the National MS Society Oklahoma Chapter, and Michael Paston, paramedic and Bike MS participant, invite you to join the fun at the Bike MS Oklahoma Ride.
If you ride, you can expect to have a great time. “We’ll have a party at Tillman Park and a party at the State Capitol at the end of the ride,” says King. “There are rest stops every ten miles, and there will be good times at each one of them. They will have TVs, beer, clowns, food, people dressed like pirates – all kinds of great stuff. You can do the ride just ten miles at a time. If you can go ten miles on a bike, you can do it. And we’re supported by medical services and bike shops, so you’ll be well taken care of.” In addition to the food and drinks available at the rest stops, five full meals will be provided to riders.
The National MS Society has made it easy to sponsor a rider or, if you’re riding, to coordinate your fundraising efforts. At www.nationalMSsociety.org/bikemsok, each cyclist has his or her own page, and donations can be made directly through the site.
Paramedic and Bike MS fundraising hero Mike Paston was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 23 years ago. He rode in 2007 and 2008, and will be riding again this year. “When I was diagnosed, I wanted to be involved in research,” he says. “I progressed to walking with a cane, then about 12 years ago I got a service dog; fatigue is a big issue for people with MS, and the dog really helped with that. In 1999, I was involved with some research where I received a treatment that killed the bad T cells – in essence, they created a personal vaccine for me. It stopped the progression of my MS and the fatigue went away. Now I can build my muscles.”
“I love riding my bike,” he continues. “The Bike MS Ride is so much fun – it’s a ride, not a race – people are laughing, smiling, talking, helping each other. It’s really a community out there. And in the ride there’s no hurry, no pressure; it’s not timed – you just do what you can. The rest stops are a lot of fun, and very relaxing.”
The Bike MS Oklahoma Ride is September 26 and 27. For those who wish to ride, there is a $50 registration fee and a $225 minimum fundraising commitment. For more information on how you can sponsor a cyclist, ride or volunteer, contact the Oklahoma Chapter of the National MS Society or visit them on the web at www.nationalMSsociety.org/bikemsok.