For Bill Taafe of Duncansville, the Bike MS: Keystone Country Ride is more than a fundraiser. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1984.
"Riding is one way I try to keep myself in shape, try to keep healthy," Taafe, 67, said. "Because I have diabetes, it helps in that respect, too."
Taafe owns Spokes-N-Skis, a bike shop in Al-toona. He closes the store for the event - all of the employees in the shop participate, and the business supplies a support truck to help with bike repairs along the route.
The ride leaves Hollidays-burg Area Junior High School at 7 a.m. Saturday. Cyclists will bike 75 miles to The Penn Stater Con-ference Center Hotel in State College, where they will have dinner and have the opportunity to hear "MS and You: Understanding and Treating Relapsing MS," a presentation from Dr. Gary Thomas of the Penn State Hershey Medi-cal Center.
"It's a really nice ride," Taafe said. "The MS Society has stops every 15 miles with drinks, water and energy bars. They keep you going."
As of Tuesday, 470 cy-clists has registered; participants may register now through Saturday, said Sharon O'Keiff, manager of the MS Society's Keystone Branch. It costs $30 to register for the bike ride, and cyclists have until Aug. 28 to raise a minimum of $250 for the MS Society.
If you go
What: Bike MS: Keystone Country Ride
When: 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday; registration begins at 6 a.m. Saturday
Where: The ride leaves Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School at 7 a.m. Saturday and ends at the Penn Stater Conference Center in State College. Riders leave the hotel at 7 a.m. Sunday to return to Hollidaysburg.
Cost: $30 to register; $250 must be raised by Aug. 28
More information: Call the MS Society at 696-1017.
Last year, the ride raised $360,000, which benefits MS patients in Blair, Bedford, Cambria, Clearfield, Indiana and Jefferson counties. There are more than 7,050 patients registered in the MS Society's Allegheny chapter; about 300 of those patients are in Blair County.
"With the economic times we're in, we've been helping a lot with electric bills, gas bills, a lot of crisis care," O'Keiff said.
Registrations are accepted until the ride begins Saturday. For more information, call the MS Society at 696-1017.
Mirror Staff Writer Ashley Gurbal is at 946-7435.