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Higgins to ride for multiple sclerosis

Karen Higgins loves to ride. She spends as much of her spare time on her bike as she can. Most of the time she rides for the pleasure of being outdoors.

On Sept. 25 and 26 she will ride for much more. On those dates Higgins will participate in the John N. Whitaker Memorial MS 150 Bike Tour at Orange Beach, Alabama.

The tour is sponsored by the Alabama Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The idea is for each biker to gather sponsors to raise money. Every dollar raised counts.

Almost every hour in the United States, someone is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Each day 400,000 Americans face the challenge of learning to live with the unpredictable and often devastating disease that can rob them of significant physical and mental abilities, their livelihood and their independence.

In Alabama alone, 4,000 people are currently living with the disease. Higgins goal is to raise money for all these people.

&uot;My goal is $4,000,&uot; said Higgins. &uot;That is $1 for every person in Alabama that has been diagnosed with MS.&uot;

Higgins will have three local women in her corner.

Debbie Daurelio, Edith Williams and LaChasta Betton will all serve as Higgins’ pedal partners.

Higgins will also ride for a Barbara Benedict, another pedal partner in Connecticut.

The pedal partner allows MS 150 participants to ride on behalf of someone with MS. They may ride for someone they know, or don’t know. It doesn’t matter.

Higgins said the idea of pedal partners is a great addition to the ride.

&uot;It really is a good thing,&uot; said Higgins. &uot;They allow you to have pedal partners and you can ride in their honor. This year I will ride for Edith, Debbie and LaChasta.&uot;

Higgins said she enjoys riding, but she enjoys riding for a cause much more.

&uot;I really like to do these types of rides for fundraisers,&uot; said Higgins. &uot;I have done two other rides in the past. I did one ride for the Lung Association and another for Parkinson’s Disease.&uot;

Currently, Higgins is trying to round up support and donations. These small donations can go miles to treat the disease. Donations will provide money to aid in research efforts to seek the cause and cure for the disease helping the chapter provide services to over 4,000 people in Alabama.

For those who live with the disease, research can mean all the difference in the world.

One of the most important services the chapter is funding for research into the cause, cure and treatment of MS. The national MS society will provide almost $30 million for research this year. Research is conducted in several institutions, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Williams, who has had MS for 11 years, said the progress since her diagnosis has been tremendous.

&uot;When I was diagnosed 11 years ago there were no drugs for MS,&uot; said Williams. &uot;Now there are all these campaigns to raise money. There is still no cure, but they now have drugs that can modify the disease. It makes it easier to live with.&uot;

The National MS Society is the largest private sponsor of research in the world and proudly provides local programs designed to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by MS. By choosing to ride the MS 150 Bike Tour, you are joining thousands of people across the country untied in the mission to end the devastating effects of MS.

Contributions should be mailed by Sept. 21, 2004.

They may be mailed to Higgins at 521 Greenville Bypass.

Checks should be payable to the National MS Society with Higgins name on the memo line.

Higgins can answer any questions at 382-1424.