Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world and the disease is still not well understood.
More research is needed, insists South Langley’s Tim Baillie – one of more than 120 cyclists who rode through the backroads of Langley (and the rest of the Fraser Valley) this weekend for that purpose.
“This ride helps greatly,” said the retired Surrey fire captain who’s been part of the annual MS Bike ride for the past 14 years.
He’s a 63-year-old hobby mountain biker, at best, but believes so deeply in the cause that each year he dusts off the cobwebs (on his bike, that is) and heads out with friends and family to participate in the two-day, about 170-kilometres trek.
Baillie is just one of the member of the Easy Riders team, which is one of numerous teams participating in the local event based out of Thunderbird Show Park this Saturday and Sunday.
“This team started years ago with the White Rock MS Walk, then transformed into the Vancouver MS Ride, and then the Fraser Valley Grape Escape. People come and go according to moves, jobs, availability, etc. We have gone up as many as 17, one year,” he said.
This year, the team is made up of himself, Karen Belcourt, Pat and Gerry Wilson, Alex and Debbie Hazlett, as well as Marilyn Lenzen, Steven Kellough, and Becca.
To see what the people who are affected by MS do, what they can achieve, and what they live with, is “inspiring,” to Baillie, who is touched on many fronts by the disease.
His mother Rosalie was diagnosed about 34 years ago and has been in a wheelchair for about seven years now.
A long-time friend, Debbie Hazlett, also has MS, and the son of his friends Gerry and Pat Wilson lives with MS, as well as another friend Deb Manulak.
“I and our team ride for fun and awareness,” Baillie explained. He rides for all these people in his life, and many more.
There are numerous MS fundraising bike ride held across the country each year. The one in this community, called the Fraser Valley Grape Escape, includes stops at a number of wineries throughout the Valley.
Since starting with the MS Bike Ride, the Easy Riders have raised more than $140,000, “and counting,” Baillie explained, noting that most of the donations come from friends and from his firefighters union IAFF Local 1271.
Overall, the goal for this year’s Fraser Valley Grape Escape is to raise more than $185,000, and thanks to the efforts of Baillie and the Easy Riders, the organization is well on its way to achieving that target.
“MS has touched a lot of our team of family and friends, and we’re doing what we can to support those near and dear to us,” team’s captain Patricia Wilson noted on the team’s webpage, their team (which is often one of the top fundraising groups for the ride, surpassed its 2018 goal – and as of Sunday afternoon was approaching the $12,000 mark.
Both Wilson and Baillie agree it’s a fun weekend.
It’s all about cycling, eating, drinking a little wine, eating, laughing, and raising dollars for the MS Society.
More than 77,000 Canadians live with MS, that’s approximately one in every 385 Canadians. According to the MS Society of Canada, women are three times more likely to be diagnosed with MS than men, and 60 per cent of adults diagnosed with MS are between the ages of 20 and 49 years old.
MS is the most common neurological disease affecting young adults in Canada, and on average, 11 Canadians are diagnosed with MS every day.
Baillie, the Easy Riders, and more than a hundred other cyclists did their part this weekend to help raise money for research, in hopes that one day a cure will be found.
In the meantime, Wilson said, “Easy Riders… we work hard at raising awareness and are serious about having fun.”