Bike Ride to Benefit Multiple Sclerosis Research

LAS VEGAS - It's a test of strength of both mind and body.

Three hundred cyclists make up the Vegas Challenge Bike Ride for Multiple Sclerosis. Through the rugged desert and mountain terrain to spacious residential city streets, some pedal for 90, 60 and 30-mile routes.

"Back's starting to hurt, neck, legs are getting sore," one rider said.

"It's nothing what we're going through," another rider said. "We're blessed to be able to come out here and do this."

For Abby West, the challenge was one mile. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis ten years ago.

"I just got so fatigued in the car, and I just became like a big jelly fish," she said. "I couldn't hold myself up, and I didn't know what was wrong."

That moment, her then-teenage son, Timothy West, saw his mom's struggle and decided to fight back. He is now director of the multiple sclerosis program at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

"It was at that time that I really started to think of this illness, and when I started medical school, all I wanted to do was learn about MS," he said.

"It just humbles me," Abby West said. "I think the first research was with small mammals. He really got hooked with the activity and what the brain was doing."

Dr. West says there was no treatment for multiple sclerosis 18 years ago. Today, researchers like him have helped create eight FDA-approved medications for this unpredictable disease.

West says he is simply doing what his mother has always done.

"(She) always showed me that no matter what life throws at you, you just keep moving forward," he said.

For West and hundreds of other cyclists, this race is not defined by who wins. There's no second or third place for cyclists who finish strong. It's about accepting the challenge to ride for multiple sclerosis.

"With so many people together trying to fight this thing, we can't help but make progress," one rider said.

Dr. West says researchers are on the verge of getting three or four more medications approved.

The bike challenge resumes Sunday.


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