Sep 16, 2013
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease of the central nervous system for which there is no cure. MS interrupts the flow of information between the brain and the body and can stop people from moving. This disease is unpredictable in that symptoms can come and go, and can also vary widely based on the individual. In some cases, MS causes blurred vision, numbness or tingling. In others cases, MS can cause a person to have speech problems and even paralysis.
Madeline (Maddie) Byrne, a resident of Pompton Plains, and Doug Billitz, a resident of Lincoln Park, have been named the 2013 Bike MS: Great NJ Country Ride Ambassadors. For over a decade, Maddie, Captain of Team Tricia, and Doug, CO-Captain of Team Tricia, have been on their way to finding a cure for MS.
It started with the diagnosis of Maddie’s sister and Doug’s wife, Tricia Byrne Billitz. At the age of 29, Tricia was diagnosed with MS; however, it was not until she was involved in a serious car accident in 1991 that her symptoms began to worsen. MS began to affect Tricia’s legs, feet and hands, making it very difficult to perform efficiently at her job. Eventually, she was laid off and approved for disability. Doug, Tricia’s husband of 25 years, lovingly decided to work during the evenings so that he could care for his wife during the day.
Together, Maddie and Doug have made the search to find a cure for MS a priority. Beginning with MS Walks, Maddie, Doug and Tricia participated and raised money until 1999 when Tricia was no longer able to walk. This did not stop Maddie and Doug, who were fully committed to the cause and could continue to take part in the events.
With Tricia in their minds, Maddie and Doug participated in Bike MS: City to Shore Ride with the Greater Delaware Valley Chapter in 2000. In the 8 years the team took part in this event, they collectively raised over $35,000.
When Team Tricia discovered the National MS New Jersey Metro Chapter 5 years ago, they knew it was the right place for them to continue their efforts by participating in the Bike MS: Great NJ Country Ride. Now the team was closer to home and ready to take their efforts one step further.
“The minimum requirement was not good enough for me. It’s not just about the ride; for me, it’s about raising enough money to find a cure for MS,” Maddie explained. In the past 6 years, Maddie has already raised around $40,000 to help find a cure.
Team Tricia, currently a team of 6 people, has raised over $11,000 to $15,000 each year. The team is conducting fundraisers during the month of September to raise more money to go towards Bike MS.
Maddie, who teaches indoor cycling classes, is conducted a two-hour Spin-A-Thon where riders will be asked to make a $20 donation for each bike. The event took place Sunday, September 15 at Strive Health & Fitness in Saddle Brook, NJ and raised $450. In addition, on Thursday, September 19, Team Tricia will be hosting a 50/50 at the Sunset Pub & Grille in Lincoln Park, NJ. The restaurant will be donating a percentage of the proceeds to the cause.
On Saturday, September 21 Maddie and Doug will begin their two day cycling adventure at the 2013 Bike MS: Great New Jersey Country Ride in Morristown NJ to be one step closer in creating a world free of MS. With route options for cyclist of every level, ranging from 20-100 miles, the New Jersey Metro Chapter of the National MS Society will see 700 volunteers riding right along with Maddie and Doug. As the journey approaches, the team awaits two days of camaraderie, personal accomplishment, and fulfillment towards their current goals, because Maddie and Doug don’t just ride, they Bike MS.
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body. Every hour in the United States, someone is newly diagnosed with the disease. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with more than twice as many women as men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and 2.1 million worldwide.
About the National MS Society
The National MS Society is a movement by and for people with MS. The Society funds cutting-edge research, drives change through advocacy, facilitates professional education, and provides programs and services that help people with MS and their families to move their lives forward. MS stops people from moving. We exist to make sure it doesn’t.
Join the movement.
Find out more at nationalMSsociety.org/njm
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