LaGRANGE — Cyclists will fill downtown this weekend as over a thousand people join the Bike MS: COX Atlanta Peach Ride 2016.
The funds raised by the bike ride go to Georgia’s Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which funds research and education on multiple sclerosis. The disease attacks the nervous system and often disables those affected. Last year, the National MS Society put $122.2 million towards connecting people with resources for MS and put $54 million towards research on MS.
“Now the idea as a rider for the MS, you agree or volunteer, not only to pay to ride, you actually go out and raise funds,” said Rick Brock of Golden’s Bike Shop. “In other words, if you were going to sponsor me, I’d ask you to go to my website, and just say you are going to give me so much per mile or just a flat fee.”
Golden’s Bike Shop has a team made up of six members that plan to take part in the ride, including Pat Hamby, who was diagnosed with MS in 2001 and her husband, Thelon Hamby, who has raised $1,550 towards the group’s $2,500 goal. The group along with the other ride participants are scheduled to set out from Newnan on Saturday morning and, according to Brock, are expected to start showing up on Country Club Road about 10 a.m.
“Our event organizers, cyclists and support teams are excited to be coming to LaGrange this year,” said Roy A. Rangel, president of the NMSS Georgia Chapter, in a press release. “This 30th anniversary is a year of firsts for us – new starting line at Blalock Lakes Sporting Club in Newnan and new routes ending with a big celebration in historic downtown LaGrange. We are grateful to the community for welcoming us with open arms.”
In past years, the MS Ride has done a “loop” that began and ended at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain. This year, after arriving in LaGrange, cyclists are expected to camp out in Sweetland Amphitheatre, though some are expected to stay in local hotels as well.
“We hope the Bike MS group enjoys discovering our charming downtown district while they are here,” said Barbie Watts, director of promotions and marketing for the Downtown Development Authority, in a press release. “With hotel accommodation, catering and event production needs being met by our community partners, this event is going to have a solid economic impact on our downtown businesses.”
A1A, a Jimmy Buffett cover band, is scheduled to play at Sweetland Amphitheatre at 5 p.m. on Saturday to entertain the visiting cyclists, and local vendors are expected to be available to cyclists at the event.
The Bike MS: COX Atlanta Peach Ride will ride through downtown Saturday and Sunday, with events related to the ride taking place at Sweetland Amphitheatre on Saturday night. The ride is scheduled to begin at Blalock Lakes Sporting Club in Newnan at 8 a.m. on Saturday and out of LaGrange at 8 a.m. on Sunday. To donate to the Golden’s Bike Shop team’s MS goal, go to bikemsgeorgia.org.
Alicia B. Hill is a correspondent for LaGrange Daily News. Reach the office at 706-884-7311.