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What's Up Magazine

8 States, 8 Days, 1 Ride, 1 Cure

Jan 24, 2012 12:43AM ● By Anonymous
They biked eight straight days through eight states to raise funds and public awareness about Multiple Sclerosis. The bike ride, dubbed the MS Great 8–8 State Tour, was founded by the MS Great 8 Foundation, which strives to “inspire those diagnosed with MS to take charge of their lives and not let MS control them,” says the foundation’s website.

“More than 400,000 Americans are living with MS,” says Annapolis resident Jan Sullivan, a supporter and fellow rider of the foundation. Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, and hits home to the co-presidents of the foundation, Catherine Tsigakos and Mike Zimits. Tsigakos’ brother was diagnosed from MS 22 years ago, while Zimits was diagnosed with MS nearly 13 years ago. But together, they continue to promote public awareness about MS, having participated fully in the bike ride, now in its second year.

This year’s challenge featured 16 participating riders, who started from Newton, Massachusetts, and finished the eight stage, 535-mile trek in Washington, D.C. “On the road, we climbed hills, we pedaled into the wind, we got a bit wet..and we, occasionally, had the wind to our back,” says Tsigkos. “We also saw beautiful terrain, from the hills of Massachusetts to the blue of the Long Island Sound…from the surf of Montauk to the beauty of Long Beach Island…and the vastness of the Chesapeake Bay,” says Zimits. The final two stages covered Maryland’s Eastern Shore onward to Washington, D.C., passing through regional gems such as Tuckahoe State Park and the Choptank, Severn, and South rivers.

“From a public awareness perspective, this team rocked,” exclaimed the co-presidents. “Newspapers, radio, and television…for eight days we told America about MS.” This year’s fundraising goal was $200,000, and even though they were a little short, the MS Great 8 Foundation was able to donate $152,000 to various chapters of the National MS Society.

Most importantly, foundation members believe that there is a cure and they are willing to take on challenges, such as this bike ride, to help make that dream come true. “Now that the team jerseys are washed and put away until next year and my life is back to my usual routine, I am reflecting on this experience as a journey of so much meaning and very lifechanging,” says Sullivan.

“Life with MS can be very difficult, but hope makes even the toughest days worthwhile,” adds Zimits.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the MS Great 8 Foundation, email the foundation at, or visit their website,