Bike MS races its way to a cure, hosts first-ever ride to Oxford

Posted on Sep 22 2017 - 7:59am by Jordyn Smith

Hundreds of cyclists will race to the finish line for the first-ever FedEx Rockin’ Ride to Oxford benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society this Saturday in the Grove.

Bike MS is a cycling fundraiser that combines competition with charity to find a cure to end multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease where the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system. It is an unpredictable, chronically debilitating disease that is currently incurable. More than 2.3 million people are affected by MS worldwide, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

That is why researchers and fundraisers like Bike MS are working harder than ever to find a cure.

The Memphis area has hosted Bike MS events for more than 30 years, but this is the first time the group will make the trip down to Oxford.

“I cannot wait to see our cyclists come across the finish line at the Grove,” Abby Harwood, director of Bike MS, said. “The City of Oxford and the university have been so welcoming and hospitable. I know our cyclists are going to have a wonderful experience.”

The riders will start at Byhalia High School, following either a 55- or 100-mile route to the Grove, which will serve as the finish line for cyclists. Early finishers will then be able to participate in their own Grove tailgate as they cheer on other cyclists.

With different route options, the ride is accommodating to bikers of all skill levels. Riders will wind through the countryside of Mississippi with a fully equipped team providing rest stops every 10-12 miles.

There will also be medical and mechanical help should any rider need assistance. Harwood said they have everything taken care of for the riders to succeed and are dedicated to the main goal of having fun while ending MS.

Bike MS works to make dramatic impacts and raises more money than any other cycling event for any other cause. According to the organization, it has raised more than $1 billion to find a cure to end multiple sclerosis. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society reports it is the largest private funder of multiple sclerosis research in the world, and Bike MS is one of its biggest fundraisers.

The FedEx Rockin’ Ride to Oxford has equally big goals in mind for its introductory year. Harwood said the ride has currently raised almost $140,000.

This year’s ride impacts not only riders, volunteers and donors but also the millions of lives affected by multiple sclerosis.

“This position is so much more than a job,” Harwood said. “Growing up, my Aunt Libby lived with MS, and I saw firsthand how MS affects individuals and families. Every day, I go to work and do my very best to honor her memory. My goal, and the society’s goal, is to end MS forever.”

Even if students are not able to participate in the ride, they are encouraged and welcomed to get involved.

“We are always looking for volunteers,” Harwood said. “We would love to have students come to our finish line and show the spirit of Ole Miss as our riders finish day one.”