Blaine resident Chuck Dolezalek, 53, is gearing up for his 22nd year of participation in the Bike MS: C.H. Robinson MS 150 Ride.
Nearly 3,500 cyclists are setting out to raise more than $3 million to make a difference in the lives of 1 million people who live with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the U.S. Cyclists will ride up to 150 miles over two days in the annual Bike MS: C.H. Robinson MS 150 Ride. The route will depart from Proctor for Hinckley on June 8 and conclude at Century College in White Bear Lake on June 9.
A new study conducted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society shows more than twice as many people in the U.S. are living with MS than previously thought. The previous studies estimated the prevalence to be 400,000, but the new study shows that number is closer to 1 million.
“Twice as many people need a cure and to know they have a community to support them,” said Jody Payne, bike director of National MS Society. “With each pedal stroke and fundraising dollar, our cyclists are bringing us closer to our ultimate finish line — a world free of MS.”
C.H. Robinson MS 150 Ride is one of more than 70 rides across the country hosted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and served as the flagship Bike MS event. It first took place in 1980. Two hundred cyclists rode from Minneapolis to Duluth and raised $33,000. This year, more than 80,000 people are expected to participate in Bike MS nationwide.
Dolezalek, senior director of engineering at Banner Engineering, heard about Bike MS shortly after becoming employed at Banner Engineering. For many years now, the company has pulled a team together to participate in the event. “We have been able to come up with a good team. The size has gone up and down over the years,” he said. “At one point we had a team of 70 people, but that is down to about 30 this year.”
Dolezalek said he has participated in the event for many years to support his friend, who was diagnosed with MS when she was 25 years old.
Every year, despite the weather and the fact he says he is not an avid bicyclist, Dolezalek has completed all 150 miles of the ride. He recalled a couple of years ago when a bad hailstorm hit the Blaine area right as the bikers were passing through. “It damaged thousands of houses in Blaine. People had to duck into fire departments, garages, churches ... there were leaves, branches and hail all over the trail,” he said.
In addition to Bike MS, Dolezalek also participated in Walk MS for many years. Now he just sticks to the bike ride. Completing all 150 miles “is a challenge, but it is really not that crazy hard,” he noted.
“It is a really well-organized event,” Dolezalek said. “There are a lot more people than you think that have MS.”
For more information, or to sign up for the event, visit nationalmssociety.org.
Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or email@example.com.