Kayla Jacoby, a sophomore elementary/special education major at KU, decided to join the Coast to Coast for Multiple Sclerosis event this summer along with seven others.
Multiple Sclerosis or MS is a disease that affects and essentially attacks the central nervous system (brain, spinal chord, and optic nerves). In severe cases paralysis may occur.
Jacoby’s desire to participate began in the summer of 2011 as she watched her boyfriend, Cameron Swengel, begin a race across the U.S. She regretted not being able to “experience the full journey of riding with [him].”
“Throughout the 50 days that Cameron and the other riders were gone, I thought to myself how much I would have loved to go see the world with my boyfriend while helping to spread the word about MS,” said Jacoby.
Jacoby said that after that ride, he decided to create another opportunity to ride for MS awareness.
Last year, Swengel created Coast to Coast for MS because of the impact of having both his father and grandfather diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Coast to Coast for MS is a group of cyclists who participate in cross country cycling to inspire others to make a difference in the world and it’s been active for a year now.
“By informing others about MS, we can educate them on the negative side effects placed on the individual and their loved ones,” said Jacoby.
He gathered a group of cyclists and they rode across the country from Yorktown, Virginia to San Francisco, California. As a result, they were able to raise a total of $22,000.
This summer, the Coast to Coast group will consist of eight college students from Philadelphia University and Kutztown University, including Jacoby and Swengel. They will travel 2,636 miles down the East Coast from Bar Harbor, Maine to Key West, Florida with the hopes of raising $30,000 for the National MS Society. Each day, they will ride an average of 88 miles, and stop to rest in hotels, hostels and campgrounds. The event will begin May 20 and end on June 25.
“[My boyfriend] has always told me that he would like to show me the world, so I took those words into consideration when I made my decision to join the ride.”
The riders will prepare for the trip by running and biking. They will also have a training ride, 76 miles, traveling from Philadelphia University to Shady Maple, PA. They will then take a week off from training one week prior to the event in order to prevent any injury.
During the ride, they will visit people living with MS to see how their lives have been affected from living with the disease. This will help to show how much of an impact MS has on others.
“Through this ride, I feel as though I will be making a difference in the world, especially the lives of individuals who have MS,” said Jacoby. “This will be an experience of a lifetime.”
Along with their overall goal of raising $30,000, each rider hopes to raise $3,000 or more in order to show their dedication to not only the NMMS, but to their teammates as well. Although there are businesses and churches helping them to achieve this, they’ve only raised $16,219.60.
The riders ask for any donations they can get. To donate, visit their website, click on the donation tab and follow the directions from there. All of the proceeds will go directly toward the NMMS Central PA chapter to benefit PA residents with the disease. You may also enjoy checking out each of the riders’ profiles to see the goals they hope to achieve individually while participating in this event. For more information, visit http://www.coast2coastforms.webs.com.
By Erika Parker