By MADDY VITALE
For some, it was their first time riding in the Bike MS: City to Shore Ride on Saturday, where cyclists took the trek from Cherry Hill to Ocean City.
For others, it was an annual tradition. For all of them, it was a way to raise funds to help their loved ones, family, friends and even strangers, in the battle against multiple sclerosis.
Ocean City was transformed into a cyclists’ haven, as riders zipped over the Ninth Street Bridge and into town, while police directed traffic and ensured cyclists’ safety.
In all, there were about 3,000 cyclists, MS officials said. The goal was to raise more than $3.5 million. Cyclists and MS staff said they were confident that would happen.
Each year, the ride raises money for programs and research in hopes of finding a cure for MS.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord, the central nervous system.
Matt Ramer, an MS volunteer, raised the most money to fight MS for the 2021 event, as he did in 2018.
There was not a ride due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. However, there was a virtual fundraising event held instead.
While any funds raised are appreciated, some participants really work hard to bring in the most money, MS staff has said.
Ramer is one of those people.
Ramer and his team from Mor Wealth Management, which is based in Philadelphia, raised more than $55,000 by the afternoon on Saturday.
“I want to get to $75,000,” said Ramer, of Philadelphia.
In between taking photos of cyclists crossing the finish line, Ramer spoke to OCNJDaily.com about what motivates him each year to help with the noble cause.
“I was so inspired as a volunteer,” he said. “I really saw how many people are affected by the disease.”
After cyclists crossed the finish line at Fifth Street, they were met with applause and cheers from family and friends and MS staff and volunteers.
They then went to the parking lot adjacent to the Sports & Civic Center parking lot where MS vendors had T-shirts to memorialize the important day. Some cyclists sat down for a bit and snacked after the long ride.
Friends, colleagues and avid cyclists John Martin, of Ocean City, Hugh Callander, of Philadelphia, Igor Temelkouski, and Thomas Poteschil, of Voorhees, joined forces for Team Subaru.
“We have a friend who has MS. She volunteers at an MS station in Voorhees for the event,” Martin explained. “It’s a great cause. It’s just an outstanding event.”
Temelkouski said it is also a time to be with friends and spend the day biking, while raising funds for MS.
“We have a good time,” he added.
Callander said he and his team were appreciative of how well the event was run.
“It is well organized and the police really do a great job,” he said.
Nick Millheim, of Lansdale, Pa., had a cheering squad waiting for him in the Fifth Street parking lot staging area for the event.
It was his first MS ride, but not his last, he said.
“It was my first race and it definitely felt like a 75-mile ride,” Millheim said with a laugh while surrounded by his mom, sister, girlfriend, uncle and cousin. “But I will do it again.”
The family held a sign that read: “You Did It Nick.”
“My dad was on the bridge holding up a sign, too,” Millheim said proudly.
His cousin, Katherine Delaney, 13, of Collegeville, Pa., said she was really proud of him.
“I just think it was really cool that he did it,” she said.
But it took four months of hard training to get ready to ride the 75-mile journey, he said.
“I’ve been riding for a while and this was something I wanted to do,” he said. “Now I’m ready for a pizza.”
For more information visit www.nationalmssociety.org.