Garnering support for a most worthy cause

The annual Johnson MS Bike Tour is right around the corner, and it’s the perfect opportunity to join forces with the community and help to raise funds for the continued fight against multiple sclerosis.

A great way to take in some beautiful Central Alberta scenery while helping to make a significant difference in the lives of those with MS and their families, the Johnson MS Bike Tour runs Aug. 29th and Aug. 30th.

Earlier this year, during Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada launched a bold new awareness campaign asking all Canadians whether they would flee or fight when faced with the fact that Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world.

There are a number of theories for that, ranging from whether it’s causes partly by external, environmental factors to a general lack of sunlight we experience through the year, as we are primarily a ‘winter’ nation. Whatever the cause, MS is a devastating disease that requires consistent funding as researchers work to both perfect current medications to control symptoms and ultimately to find a cure.

According to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, multiple sclerosis (MS) is thought to be an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord).

The disease attacks myelin, the protective covering of the nerves, causing inflammation and often damaging the myelin. Myelin is necessary for the transmission of nerve impulses through nerve fibres.

If damage to myelin is slight, nerve impulses travel with minor interruptions; however, if damage is heavy and if scar tissue replaces the myelin, nerve impulses may be completely disrupted, and the nerve fibres themselves can be damaged.

Another disturbing attribute of the MS is that it can occur at any age, but is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 to 40, peak years for education, career and family-building. MS has been diagnosed in children as young as two years old – and in far older adults. As the Society points out, it has some peculiarities: MS is three times as likely to occur in women as in men and is more common in people of northern European background.

Symptoms range from extreme fatigue, lack of coordination, weakness, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment and mood changes.

Most people who have MS can expect a normal or near-normal lifespan, thanks to improvements in symptom management and the MS disease-modifying therapies.

As for this year’s race, participants will begin each day at the Penhold Multiplex and cycle along scenic roads throughout Central Alberta.

Riders will enjoy a fully supported tour covering approximately 80 kms per day. Along the way, rest stops with water, snacks, first aid, washroom facilities and mechanical teams will be provided.

The day concludes with a beer garden and a finish line BBQ inclusive of friends and family. People are also encouraged to create a team by encouraging family, friends, and coworkers to join you or pledge you on your ride.

Those interested in taking part can register at www.msbike.ca.

Early check-in date for the event is Aug. 26th and 27th and early check-in time is noon to 7 p.m. on both days as well. The early check-in location is the MS Society office located at #105, 4807 50 Ave. in Red Deer.

For complete details about this year’s event, contact Lorraine Evans-Cross by email at lorraine.evanscross@mssociety.ca or by phone at 403-346-0290.

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