Sunday, July 13, 2003

Bicycle trek aids research, services for MS


Life cycle Bikers raise funds for chronic disease

By Jeremy W. Steele
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON - Don Beland's tush provided a nice accent to his tight biker shorts early Saturday morning.

His peach-colored imitation rump flopped over the black shorts - a mascot of sorts for the 25-member Team BUNS. Shortly after 7:30 a.m., the group pedaled away from the Countryside YMCA with 627 other bikers for the 22nd annual MS-150 Bike Ride for Multiple Sclerosis, a two-day, 150-mile bicycle trek. This year's ride takes bikers from Lebanon to Miami University in Oxford and back.

This morning the bicyclists are to return from Oxford and they'll be eager to dismount. Beland said, "It's day two that's a real battle;. "There's nowhere comfortable on the bike seat to sit."

Like many of the participants in the fund-raiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Ohio Valley Chapter, Beland has a connection to MS that makes the pain of sitting on a bicycle seat for so long worth it.

MS is a chronic and sometimes disabling neurological disease of the central nervous system that affects more than 400,000 Americans. A friend with the disease introduced Beland to the bicycling event, which officials expect to raise $500,000 this year for health-care services and research.

The ride is the chapter's largest fund-raising event. Nationwide, bicycling events around the country raised $30 million last year.

Dr. John Tew sees the effects of MS on a daily basis. The neurosurgeon also sees the benefits of the charitable causes to help those with the disease.

Tew is medical director of the Neuroscience Institute, a partnership between Health Alliance and the University of Cincinnati.

"The Multiple Sclerosis Society does so much to help local people get care," said Tew, a captain of the bicycle team from University of Cincinnati's Waddell Center for Multiple Sclerosis. "It's a chronic disease and it can be very difficult to care for someone."

About 60 percent of the money raised stays in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas to provide care and other services for people with MS. Another 20 percent is used to fund research projects. Riders, who pay a $35 registration fee, must raise at least $200 in pledges to participate.

Rest stops are set up about every 10 miles for bikers along the route through Warren and Butler counties.

The group arrived in Oxford, where they would stay the night in dorms, about 5 p.m. Saturday.

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E-mail jsteele@enquirer.com




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