Penn bicyclists team up to fight MS

Two recently-appointed University of Pennsylvania Health System administrators are looking for others to join their fight against multiple sclerosis through bike riding.

Pat Donahue, director of employee health services and international marketing, and Garry L. Scheib, executive director for network development in New Jersey, will co-captain the newly formed University of Pennsylvania Health System Team for this year's MS 150 City to Shore and Bike to the Bay fundraising rides in September.

The City to Shore ride from Cherry Hill to Atlantic City, N.J., and the Bike to the Bay ride from Smyrna to Dewey Beach, Del., raise funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and its local chapters.

The rides are part of a national circuit of MS 150 rides. Each year, 140 two-day, 150-mile rides are staged, and, as Donahue put it, "If you had the inclination, you could spend from April to October each year riding in one of these events each weekend."

While the UPHS team is new to the MS 150 rides, both Scheib and Donahue are seasoned veterans. Scheib served as a team captain while at Allegheny Health Education and Research Foundation, and Donahue captained the Hercules Inc. team.

Scheib's interest in the event is personal: his mother suffered with the nervous-system disorder for nearly 20 years, spending her last 10 in a nursing home before her death in 1996. Donahue, on the other hand, became involved almost by accident: "For our 20th wedding anniversary five years ago, my wife was going to get me a leather armchair," he said, "but she decided that I was a bit too portly, so she got me a bicycle instead. Some friends suggested that if I wanted to use the bike to train for something, there was this Bike to the Bay race."

Unaware that riders could obtain flat pledges or ride part of the way, Donahue felt obligated to complete the entire circuit that first year; knowing that his pledges were made on a per-mile basis provided him with additional motivation. In the five years since then, Donahue has raised over $15,000 for MS research through the Bike to the Bay ride.

This year, the UPHS team aims to raise $60,000 for MS research by recruiting 150 riders raising an average $400 per rider. Team members may participate in either the City to Shore ride, the Bike to the Bay ride, or both. Riders who register with the National MS Society and raise at least $150 in pledges by Aug. 1 will receive a Team UPHS jersey to wear during the ride.

Any member of the Penn community is welcome to join the team, and the co-captains will lead training rides over the months leading up to the events. For more information about how to register for the MS 150 rides and join the UPHS team, call Donahue at (610) 239-2602.

Originally published on April 16, 1998