Bicyclists hit the highway to fight multiple sclerosis

The National MS Society event, which took place on Apr. 17 and 18, is Florida’s premier charity cycling event, raising money to support research, programs and services for 6,000 South Floridians affected by multiple sclerosis.

South Miami resident Claudette Halluk is the captain of Team Bacaradi, sponsored by 42Below vodka, riding in the MS Bike Ride. The team consisted of two riders in 2004 — Claudette and one her best friends — and now there are over 150 riders. At the beginning, they wanted to do this ride because they had participated in the MS Ride from Boston to Provincetown, MA, in 2001. They realized that this event makes such a difference for people living with multiple sclerosis as well as providing people a way to get out and enjoy riding their bikes again.

Bacardi USA Inc., located in Coral Gables, has been a tremendous support to Halluk’s vision for the team, which has become one of the largest teams participating in the event, as well as educating people about MS.

“I work very hard as our team captain to provide an environment that people remember and enjoy for various reasons,” she said. “As a result, our team has been rewarded with more riders every year.” True to Bacardi’s passion for its people and its community, the company has continued to provide financial support behind the team and the event.

The Bacardi VIP tent at John Pennecamp State Park is the talk of the ride and definitely helps in the recruiting of new team members. Team Bacardi has a great blend of every level rider, a variety of most every age, plus participants who have MS, coming together from all South Florida communities.

“This ride is important to our team because we must remember that life is what we do every day and those moments can change in an instant,” Halluk said. “Team Bacardi rides to show our support for the cause and to raise awareness of multiple sclerosis in South Florida.”

Some 3,000 riders began their journey at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Apr. 17, at the new starting line, Homestead-Miami Speedway. They spent the night in Key Largo at the 42Below Village at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Once all the riders arrive, they celebrated with food, fun, and entertainment. After a good night’s sleep, riders returned to Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“The efforts of every MS Bike Ride participant, volunteer and supporter is significant to the success of this event,” said Karen Dresbach, National MS Society, South Florida Chapter president. “As a community we need to help raise the funds necessary to support those in dire need.”

You can join the 2011 MS Bike Ride by calling 1-800-344-4867 or going online at < www.msbikeflorida.org >.

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