Multiple Sclerosis Bike Ride: A Ride to Find a Cure
Francis Marion University (FMU) played host to the 29th annualtwo-day Multiple
Sclerosis (MS) bike event for the third time on Sept. 21 and 22.
Suzanne Bland of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in Charlotte, NC
coordinated the Breakaway to the Beach bike event. “When I think about the bike ride I think about the large role that FMU plays in
the ride. We have such a nice relationship with the university,” Bland said.
FMU serves as a stopping point for riders. Riders had the choice of
starting out in Monroe, NC for the 100-mile bike ride or Kershaw, SC for the 80-mile ride to FMU.
Rider Phyllis Martin, age 59 of Rock Hill, SC has been participating in the event
since it began 28 years ago. “I know most of the people that participate in this event each year,” Martin said.
“They are such encouraging and loving individuals,” Martin was diagnosed with MS at the age of 21, when attending college. She decided to turn to the bike events in effort to raise money for other people suffering from the disease. Martin views this event as an opportunity for those everyone to get involved and do something good. “My husband Wes and I rode separate bikes in the years before, but eight years
ago my MS began to really disrupt my ability to balance effectively and since then, we have ridden the tandem bike,” Martin said.
Martin and her friends formed a team called “Phyllis’ Flyers,” which participates
in the event every year. “I do this event every year for myself and others, because I want to prove that I
can ride,” Martin said. “Phyllis’ Flyers” had a goal of raising 5000 dollars coming in to the event and
exceeded that goal by raising nearly 10,000 dollars. Bland explained that the society has already raised some money but hopes to meet
their goal in the coming weeks. “So far we have raised 550,000 dollars for the event and hope to finish with 1,000,000 dollars by October 21st,” Bland said. At the finish line on campus supporters cheered on participants as they arrived on campus.
“We had been setting up the fence in front of the finish line since Friday,” Bland
said. “Each ribbon stands for a person that has MS.”
Volunteers were set up all over the Smith University Center (UC) commons
offering assistance throughout the weekend. They drove golf carts to and from the
parking lot to help participants. Tents were set up in front of the UC for riders to
supporters to gather and socialize. Traffic was prohibited from entering the university via
the main gates and circle.
Chris Kelly, 48 was participated in the bike event for his fourth time.
“My wife’s cousin has MS and my step-sister’s husband has MS,” Kelly said.
“This event is a great opportunity for me to show my support for them.”
Kelly participated in the 100-mile ride from Monroe, NC to the university
According to Bland, along each route stations were set up for riders about every
10 miles, to provide food, water and a bike mechanic.
Event participants were provided with food and refreshments following the ride.
Individuals were given shower access by FMU in the UC and provided with shuttles to
their hotels by the MS Society.
On Sunday participants left FMU campus early in the morning to bike another
100 miles to Sunset Beach, NC to complete the 200-mile bike ride for charity.