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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Life + Arts

Bikers ride for charity

UH students will be riding their bikes 180 miles from Houston to Austin in the 2009 BP MS 150 to raise research money for multiple sclerosis.’

This year marks the 25th anniversary for one of the largest fundraising rides in the nation, which boasts more than $15 million in raised funds in 2008, 13,000 cyclists, 3,000 volunteers and a myriad of supporters.

‘It doesn’t matter if you finish or not. It (only) matters that you care,’ kinesiology junior Gloria Choi said.’

A member of the UH Cycling team, Choi will be riding with the UT Health Science Center team, which has raised more than $7,000 for the cause.’

‘ ‘The reason why I ride,’ Choi said, ‘is because I have a friend who has multiple sclerosis and I can see personally how MS affects his way of life.’

MS is ‘a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system.’ according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Web site. The immune system of a person mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy tissue. Most of those with MS are commonly diagnosed at ages 20 to 50.

Though not considered fatal, symptoms of the disease are tremors, paralysis and blindness, which may be inconsistent or remain permanently.’

Registration this year filled in less than five hours, Choi said, showing she isn’t alone in her efforts to fight MS.’

Stephanie Dickson, a hotel and restaurant management sophomore, will be participating for the third time. The ride will be her father’s eighth, who was first inspired to help the cause after Dickson’s aunt was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis eight years ago.’

‘It’s been really awesome because each year we hear from my aunt all the new research that they’re doing and all the wonderful things that are coming about because people are raising money to help find the cure for MS,’ Dickson said.’

There are many different approaches to training for the rigorous two-day excursion.’

Rachel Christensen, a hotel and restaurant management senior, found Houston’s flat terrain to be a disadvantage when training for the Austin’s hills, so she and her fianc’eacute; tried riding up the ramps at parking garages.’

‘ ‘The reason we didn’t get to do that very much is you’re really not supposed to ride your bike there,’ Christensen said. ‘We thought ‘we can try this and see if they’ll let us”hellip; but it wasn’t OK.”

MS 150 is also a big deal for little towns. People line the streets to congratulate and thank the riders.’

Besides the fresh air and adrenaline from pedaling for the cause, another highlight for those riding in the MS 150 is often its traditions.

‘Every year, there’s always a guy at eight in the morning, on day two, at the top of the biggest hill,’ Dickson said. ‘He’s always out there decked out in a kilt, playing the bagpipes. It’s definitely something to look forward to (each year).”

The ride will officially kick off at 6:45 a.m. Saturday, with the top fundraising team leading the way from Tully Stadium in Houston. The route closes at 6 p.m. on Sunday, ending with finish line festivities at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum and Texas Capitol in Austin.

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