SUFFIELD, Conn. – Suffield resident Julian Bodnar was only five years old when his mother, Julie, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As he grew older, he sensed the ups and downs that his mother’s body went through, but was unsure how he could help. Then, in 2012, the 14-year-old found a way to join the quest to find a cure.
The Suffield High student researched fundraising for multiple sclerosis and discovered the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter’s website and its many fundraising event opportunities. Bodnar decided to register for the September Bike MS: Cardio Express Ride. He signed up for the 25-mile route option, and immediately began fundraising.
“It was my birthday, in June, and I remember exactly how I felt when Julian shared his present with me,” said Julie, who was diagnosed with MS in 2002. “He told me, mom, I am going to sign up for the Bike MS: Cardio Express Ride and raise money for you so we can fight this together. I was unbelievably touched – there really are no words to describe it.”
This year, the young cyclist sported bib number two symbolizing his position as the second top fundraiser at the 2013 Bike MS: Cardio Express Ride, presented by Cashman + Katz.
“Most of my fundraising was through friends and family connections, and social media was a huge part of my campaign,” said Bodnar, who has high hopes for the 2013 Bike: Cardio Express Ride. “Last year I raised $1,680. This year I rode 50 miles and set a goal of $2,500. It seems like a lot because I registered later than I did last year, but I think I can reach it!”
More than 6,000 Connecticut residents, like Julie Bodnar, have multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. Multiple sclerosis generally affects women more than men and is most often diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. Symptoms can include numbness and tingling in the limbs, difficulties with speech and vision and, in some severe cases, complete paralysis. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis.
“Like most people who are battling MS, I have my good days and my bad days,” shared Julie. “But knowing that my children have grown into more compassionate people because they have witnessed what I am going through makes my battle even more meaningful. I am so lucky to have a family that is in this with me.”
Funds raised from the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter’s 2013 Bike MS: Cardio Express Ride, presented by Cashman + Katz, ensures ongoing scientific research to find a cure for multiple sclerosis, a potentially debilitating disease. Funds also provide for vital programs and services offered by the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, to those in the state living with multiple sclerosis.
More than 200 cyclists saddled up for the 2013 Bike MS: Cardio Express Ride. Event organizers hope to raise $110,000 through the event.
Fundraising for Bike MS continues through Monday, Sept. 30. To donate to Julian Bodnar, visit ctfightsMS.org.