Riding for hope, and a cure

Newmont Bike Ride MS raises millions

Amy Woodward
Suzanne and Richard Pershall​ of Golden help raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to help fund research for a cure after Suzanne’s own diagnosis of MS in 1996.
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Around 3,000 cyclists took to the road for a two-day bike ride in support of finding a cure for multiple sclerosis last weekend.

Organized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Newmont Bike MS, which started and ended in Westminster, is the organization’s third-largest annual fundraising ride in the nation, with riders raising close to $4 million.

“It is a massive undertaking,” said Carrie Nolan, president of the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “It is the best-supported bike ride in Colorado, according to our cyclists.”

For the 2014 fiscal year, Nolan reported the society will invest $50 million in MS research. Chapters throughout the country, including the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter, contribute to this investment. In 2013, the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter was responsible for $1.5 million.

Funding research has been critical in furthering treatments for MS and maybe, one day, a cure

“Today, we have 10 FDA-approved drugs to slow the progression of MS,” Nolan said.

Three more drugs have hit the market in the last three years.

For nationwide cycling events like the Newmont Bike Ride, local chapters rely heavily on volunteers and without them, these events wouldn’t be possible, Nolan said.

Richard and Suzanne Pershall of Golden are active volunteers in the chapter, with Richard leading the Gold Wings motorcycle crew that follows the route during the Newmont Bike ride, in order to provide roadside assistance to cyclists who may need it. The Pershalls have been active in the bike ride since Suzanne was diagnosed with MS in 1996 at the age of 38.

“Suzanne and Richard are some of our top volunteers,” Nolan said. “They’re amazing.”

In the last few months, Richard has raised $50,220 for the society, and fundraising will continue beyond the bike ride until September. He has been the most positive influence for Suzanne since her diagnosis, and due to treatments, the prospect of a wheelchair is unlikely.

“I had no chance for feeling sorry for myself,” Suzanne said regarding the tremendous support received from her family.

Although she reports the first four years after her diagnosis were the most difficult, she has not had any flare-ups or exacerbation in 12 years. Her right hand remains numb and she experiences muscle spasms, but her worst symptom with MS is fatigue.

“There are days when you could stay in the bed all day long,” she said.

Every day, she feels that fatigue, even before she goes in to volunteer at the chapter on Tuesday afternoons.

Through it all, Suzanne’s treatments of Copaxone, an injection she administers once a day, have worked remarkably well for her. Looking at Suzanne, it is impossible to tell she has MS. It has been Suzanne’s personal experience that drives her and Richard to volunteer, ride and raise money for a cure.

“We’re so blessed, we just want everyone else to be, too,” Suzanne said. “Even if a cure is not found in my lifetime, maybe it will be in our children’s lifetime, or our grandchildren,” she said. “If it’s not in the cards for me, maybe it is for somebody else.”

To donate to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, visit and click Donate.