Cyclists can ride in support of a specific multiple sclerosis patient.
By AMY HOUSLEY
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- For the third consecutive year, staff from Physical Therapy and Sports Rehab Inc. will "Pedal to the Point" to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis and money for its treatment.
The team consists of 12 riders -- staff, family and friends.
Company owners Jeff Jay of Girard and Jay Scheetz of Austintown have participated in the ride all three years and are the reason the company got involved.
Scheetz was the one who first found out about the 150-mile, two-day tour, sponsored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
He found a brochure for it at a roadside rest stop and brought it back, and "suggested strongly" that the office participate.
Besides being able to give something back to MS patients, Jay said it also gave the staff a chance to keep in shape, since fitness is their business. That first year, everyone on staff rode.
Riders have the option of riding for just one day, which is what the staff has done the past two years. This year, Scheetz and Jay are planning to do the entire trip.
The ride begins Saturday at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea and will travel about 75 miles to Sandusky High School.
Those making the round trip will ride back to the fairgrounds Sunday after spending the night in Sandusky.
Jay estimated more than 1,700 riders last year.
"You see anything and everything," said Jay. People of all ages participate, often to support a friend or family member dealing with MS.
Riders can wear stickers on their jersey with the loved one's name.
Last year, a woman with MS rode for herself. Jay called it inspiring.
Along the route, people cheer the riders on. Rest stops and meal breaks are also part of the trip, where they will also be greeted by supporters.
About the disease
Few people actually see the effects of MS, a disease which strikes the central nervous system generally in people in their mid-30s. The cause of the disease is unknown. It is characterized by speech defect and loss of muscle coordination.
Jay and Scheetz work with patients in rehabilitation.
"It's a devastating thing," said Jay.
Patients start with visual and motor problems and within a few years, are usually in wheelchairs.
Patients at the rehabilitation center are well aware of the owners' involvement in the ride.
The autographed team jerseys from past rides are preserved in shadowboxes, which are on display in the office's gym. Last year, the team was recognized for having the most unique jerseys.
There is little awareness of the disease or the bike ride in the Trumbull County area, the men said. They are trying to jump-start that awareness to contribute to the cause.
Their first year riding, the office raised around $1,000; this year, they have already raised $8,000, with hopes of raising more between now and the event. They have also asked for corporate sponsors.
Riders participating for one day are required to raise a minimum of $150 and two-day riders must raise an additional $50.
A small fraction of the funds goes to administrative fees, but most of the money goes to care.
Sponsorships are not dependent on whether a rider goes 75 miles or the round trip. The sponsors "just care that we get out there and do it," said Jay.
Future participation in the event is a goal for the office.
"As long as we can ride, I want to do it," said Jay.