1,500 ride for MS research

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Ready, set, bike!

About 1,500 cyclists lined rural roads between Grand Bend and London Saturday morning to raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

The PwC MS Bike tour is the largest cycling series in North America and has been taking place in London for 27 years. Cities across Canada participate in the tour with the goal of ending multiple sclerosis (MS).

Participants varied in age from 9 to 90 and even included individuals who are living with MS—something that has only recently been possible due to new and better treatments.

“When I first started people who had MS didn’t ride,” said Lori Anne McNulty, the director of development with the MS Society of Canada.

“But now, because they’re living so well with it, we have lots of people who are riding.”

Erica Moran is a 22-year-old from Vancouver who has been participating in these rides since she was a young girl. Her dad had MS and died from it when Moran was 11, which was the same year she started riding with her mom.

This year, she decided to participate in the London tour with friends that she made at various MS rides.

“You’re never alone with the MS society,” said Moran. “They’re just fantastic people. They wouldn’t let me fall apart.”

Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world with around 1 in 340 Canadians living with the disease. It attacks myelin—a protective covering of the body’s nerves that sends impulses to them. People with MS experience several emotional and physical symptoms like extreme fatigue, lack of coordination, cognitive impairment, mood changes and vision problems.

Scott Davis has been participating in the MS Bike Tour for 11 years and said he does it for his wife who was diagnosed in MS in 2005. Davis said that biking gives him some sense of what it must be like to have MS.

“When you’re cycling you get a sense of ‘boy I feel tired,’” said Davis. “But then you’re like ‘wow, could you imagine having to live like that all day, every day?’”

McNulty said that this year, they’ve raised about $1.4 million. She said the money goes towards helping people who are living with MS and towards research to find a cure.

Barry Travnicek of Dorchester was the top fundraiser this year as he single-handedly raised $61,520. He said he made calls to businesses, asked colleagues and friends for donations and held a 50/50 raffle at a bar.

Travnicek’s sister was diagnosed with MS 27 years ago and he has been involved in the race since then. In total, he has raised $640,000 for the MS Society of Canada.

“Everybody’s got a busy life you know?” Travnicek said. “But they got together for at least one weekend to help other people and that’s kind of cool.”

The tour continues on Sunday as bikers head back to Grand Bend and celebrate with a post-ride barbecue.



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