Sep 19, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Susan Ashline
August 27, 2012 OFFICE: 585-271-0805 (x70344)
Buffalo Sound Engineer is Heading for the Hills
Cycling to Find a Cure for Multiple Sclerosis
Orchard Park, NY - Three years ago, the thought of getting back on a bicycle seemed somewhat daunting to Greg Harvey, who was 30 pounds overweight and far removed from his glory days as a recreational cyclist. Harvey wasn’t sure if his old bike would ever stage a comeback tour.
Fast forward to today, and that same man is ready to tackle a 100 mile course through perplexing terrain at Bike MS 2012 Head for the Hills on September 8 and 9 from Orchard Park to Ellicottville – and he couldn’t be more excited. He’s raising money for the National MS Society Upstate New York Chapter for research to find a cure for multiple sclerosis, and to support programs and services for people living with MS in Upstate New York – more than 3,300 people in the Greater Buffalo area.
The catalyst for Harvey’s change back in 2009 was a billboard he spotted for Pedal to the Park, a cycling fundraiser for the Upstate New York Chapter.
“I thought, perfect! That is what I’m going to do,” says the sound engineer from Buffalo. “I have good friends living with MS, so I was very much aware of it. I was also sick of buying new pants every two years to fit my expanding waistline.”
Harvey signed up that spring and gave himself the summer to train and get back into shape. By the time Pedal to the Park rolled around, he was able to finish the 33-mile course and raise nearly $3,000. He has joined Bike MS rides each year since, and used social media and mass emails to get the word out and garner support from family and friends. When he heard Bike MS Head for the Hills would take place in his hometown, Harvey vowed to become even more involved.
Harvey is heading the task force of volunteers needed to help organize the two-day destination ride, which starts at Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park and goes to Ellicottville. Cyclists stay overnight Holiday Valley Resort on Saturday, and then cycle back to Orchard Park the following day. Harvey’s role is to come up with three different courses for cyclists of varying levels.
Participants can choose which course they will ride the first day – 50, 70, or 100 miles. However, Harvey cautions this ride is especially demanding physically.
“They are not joking when they say ‘Head for the Hills,’” said Harvey. “The course is very challenging.”
For motivation during the inevitable times of extreme fatigue and physical exertion, Harvey draws inspiration from his close friends who are dealing with the challenges of multiple sclerosis.
“No matter how hot is, or how much the rain is in your face, or how tired I may be,” said Harvey, “I am still able to pedal.”
He says he thinks of the people he rides for, and then being tired doesn’t bother him. “My friends Dave, Caroline, Lisa and Cathy cannot even sit on a bicycle. They may be in a wheelchair, or bedridden, or unable to maintain balance, so for me to get on a bike is a privilege I do not take lightly.”
The second day of Bike MS Head for the Hills provides somewhat of a cool-down. Cyclists awake from their overnight lodge and trek 50 miles back to Orchard Park, taking an entirely different route so they can enjoy some of Western New York’s most scenic countryside.
Want to come along for the ride? Registration costs $50, and each rider needs to raise $250 in pledges in order to participate. You can sign up online at biknyr.nationalMSsociety.org. The chapter hopes this first-time event will draw at least 150 riders and raise $72,500.
Nervous about taking the leap into cycling? For motivation, look no further than Harvey’s astonishingly quick comeback. He has managed to raise donations – to nearly $10,000 over three years – while lowering his waistline. Harvey’s target weight is just ten pounds away… and counting.
For more information, contact Susan Ashline, Communications Manager, 585-271-0805 (x70344), Susan.Ashline@nmss.org.
About multiple sclerosis and the National MS Society Upstate New York Chapter: Multiple sclerosis, an often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed. The rate of diagnosis in Upstate New York is about double the national average. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S., and more than 12,400 people in the 50-county region served by the Upstate New York Chapter. For more information, visit www.MSupstateny.org.