By Kristen Oelschlagel
Keefe Valladares has no connection to multiple sclerosis but that’s not stopping him from supporting the cause.
“A lot of people are affected with MS and it’s an important cause in the community. It’s great that they’re having a tour locally so we can support it,” Valladares said.
Valladares is the captain of the Kingston Bombardier team, just one of the 19 teams registered for the event. His team has raised more than $6,000 so far, putting them in second place for the top online teams.
“Most of us go on regular rides on the weekends, so since we bike anyways I thought it’d be a good idea to bike and raise money for a good cause at the same time,” he said.
MS is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Often disabling, it is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40 and is three times more likely to occur in women.
According to the MS Society of Canada’s website, between 55,000 and 75,000 Canadians have MS. Approximately 1,000 new cases of MS are diagnosed per year, averaging to three people everyday. The exact cause of MS is still unknown.
This is the first MS Bike Tour in Prince Edward County with more than 200 cyclists participating in the event.
Carrie Gibson, coordinator of the Prince Edward County MS Bike Tour, said tours are happening across Canada.
“It’s the largest cycling series in North America, just in Ontario we have six tours,” Gibson said.
The Prince Edward County tour is the first tour of the year. So far $150,000 has been raised, but Gibson said they except to reach their goal of $200,000.
“It goes towards local funds. It raises money for products and services to help people in the area living with MS,” she said.
The 75 km tour starts at the community centre in Picton at July 8 at 8 a.m. The group will ride through Demorestville, across Sophiasburgh and circles around Big Island to end back at the community centre.
Valladares said it’s not a race and everyone on the team is excited whether they’re avid cyclists or beginners.
“I did a 100-km bike ride on the weekend so I’m excited for the tour. We do have some members who don’t bike as much, but we’re just going to bring our cameras and enjoy the ride while supporting a good cause,” Valladares said.
He said he’s hoping it will become an annual event and hopes more staff at Bombardier will get involved in the cause.