By Tamas Mondovics

Close to 1,000 bikers took part in the National MS Society Mid-Florida chapter’s largest annual fundraiser, Bike MS: The Citrus Tour 2013 last month to support the effort to beat Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

According to event organizers, this year’s 175-mile weekend ride was once again a great success as area residents did not fail to show up in force and raising funds with the purpose of contributing to the chapter’s $1 million goal.

“With more than 900 bikers participating in this year’s Bike MS: The Citrus Tour the total dollars are able to pour in as we are heading to a more than $900,000 goal,” said event spokesperson, Mary Deatrick. “People can still donate.”

Last month’s ride included a 50, 75 and 100 mile routes on Saturday, April 20 and 50 and 75 mile routes on Sunday, starting from the picturesque Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales through historic and scenic Central Florida checkpoints and culminating with a celebration at the luxurious Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando.

Founded in 1958, the Mid Florida Chapter serves more than 73,000 people in a 23-county area, including family members, friends, caregivers, and employers. There are an estimated 10,000 people living with MS in Mid-Florida.

“The Mid-Florida Chapter of the National MS Society is a community of individuals who are committed to achieving a world free of MS,” Deatrick said.

Long-time supporter of all MS events, Riverview resident Michele Nichols, who also suffers from the disease, spoke highly of all those who can and take part in the ride while supporting those who can not.

“MS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system that robs those affected of the ability to move,” Nichols said. “Events such as the annual Bike MS not only educate the public, but also support systems for families with MS. I appreciate everyone’s participation and thank all those that help these events become a reality.”

There are approximately 100 Bike MS rides around the country each year.

The Mid-Florida Chapter provides comprehensive support services, referrals, literature self-help groups, advocacy, and educational programs to people with MS, their family and friends, and raises funds locally to support the National MS Society’s research initiatives.

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