COLUMBIA — Three thousand bicycle riders will take off from the Midway Expo Center, located on Interstate 70 at Exit 121, this weekend to raise money and awareness for multiple sclerosis, a disease affecting about 400,000 people nationwide.
This is the 24th year the Gateway Area Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society will present the Express Scripts Gateway Ride. It is part of the national "Bike MS" series that plays host to large-scale community bike rides.
The chapter raises money for research and for programming to offer direct financial assistance, equipment and utilities to those persons and their families touched by the disease, said Beth Norviel, spokeswoman for the Gateway Area Chapter.
"Our goal this year is to raise $2.4 million," Norviel said. "The money is raised typically through individual cycling sponsors and support from corporate teams."
The cyclists' rides can be 40, 75 or 100 miles. The event will begin at 7:15 a.m. Saturday after a small ceremony. It will continue at 7 a.m. Sunday when the riders make their way to the finish line, which will also be at the expo center.
More than 700 volunteers as well as Columbia city officials made the event possible, Norviel said.
The event is a weekend celebration of community and togetherness for individuals with multiple sclerosis and for their families, Norviel said.. Participants can enjoy meals, live entertainment and a beer garden sponsored by Anheuser-Busch.
The roads will not be closed to motorists, and Norviel asked that drivers be aware of the cyclists and share the road this weekend. The cyclists are slated to ride rain or shine.