SOURCE: National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lone Star Chapter

National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lone Star Chapter

February 18, 2009 10:30 ET

Cyclists Pedal to Create a World Free of MS in 25th Anniversary BP MS 150 Bike Ride

Thousands Committed to the Cycle of Greater Good in Landmark Houston-to-Austin Ride Hosted by National MS Society, Lone Star Chapter

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwire - February 18, 2009) - On the weekend of April 18 - 19, 13,000 cyclists will make their mark against multiple sclerosis (MS) in the 25th Anniversary BP MS 150 Bike Ride from Houston to Austin. A record-setting $17 million fundraising goal has set the handlebar high for the two-day, 180-mile ride. Funds raised through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lone Star Chapter will support MS research and programs for an estimated 20,000 Texans affected by MS in 174 counties.

In 1985, the first Houston-to-Austin MS 150 opened with 237 cyclists and raised $117,000. The ride has experienced stellar growth over its 25-year history to become the largest non-profit sporting event in Texas and the largest event of its kind in North America. It now attracts 13,000 cyclists from all 50 states, two U.S. territories and 15 foreign countries. Registration for the ride reached capacity within an unprecedented one-day timeframe, and as in previous years, registration has been limited to maintain safety as its top priority and preserve the integrity of the ride.

Last year's BP MS 150 broke national records by generating more than $15 million through corporate sponsorships and the fundraising efforts of its cyclists, continuing a steady increase in fundraising levels of approximately $1 million per year for the past nine years. Throughout its history, the BP MS 150 has generated more than $90 million. This commitment to fundraising is a testament to the dedication shared by riders to make this a world free of MS, both those personally affected by MS and those who ride to raise awareness for the cause. Last year, 69 percent of riders exceeded the minimum contribution of $400.

"We are grateful for the continued support of cyclists, sponsors and volunteers who share the understanding that hardship can be an everyday, every year occurrence for those with MS," notes Mark Neagli, Lone Star Chapter president. "The ride has an amazing ability to unite each cyclist on the road, while connecting them to the thousands who live with MS each day. It gives the community an avenue to raise awareness for MS when friends or family are affected, or when they simply want to help others."

Cyclists will begin the ride in Houston on Sat., April 18, 2009, and finish in downtown Austin near the Texas Capitol on Sun., April 19, 2009, after an overnight celebration in La Grange. Three starting points will be offered this year -- West Houston's Tully Stadium, Rhodes Stadium in Katy and Waller Junior High School Stadium in Waller. On day two, riders can opt for one of two routes out of La Grange as they make their way to Austin.

BP has renewed its title sponsorship through 2012 and has continued to host the largest team for the past eight years, comprised of more than 750 members who raised an average of $1,243 per rider in 2008. Since 2001, Team BP has raised more than $5.7 million, making them the largest fundraising team affiliated with the ride. BP's eight-year partnership with the Lone Star Chapter has generated more than $10 million in sponsorship dollars, fundraising and marketing for the Chapter, and BP now has teams participating in MS 150s across the nation.

The BP MS 150 Bike Ride is one of three outstanding fundraising rides hosted by the National MS Society, Lone Star Chapter in Texas. Other rides include the Bike MS: SAM'S CLUB Frisco to Fort Worth Ride on May 2 - 3, 2009, and Bike MS: Valero Ride, held annually in October. All three Texas rides are regarded by cyclists as the premier rides in the state, with experienced management, well-coordinated routes, and special attention to rider safety and comfort. Visit www.ms150.org to support a rider, donate or to volunteer.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis interrupts the flow of information from the brain to the body and stops people from moving. Every hour in the United States, someone is newly diagnosed with MS, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with more than twice as many women as men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S., and 2.5 million worldwide.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lone Star Chapter

MS stops people from moving. The National MS Society exists to make sure it doesn't. We help each person address the challenges of living with MS and are dedicated to achieving a world free of MS. The Lone Star Chapter serves an estimated 20,000 individuals and their families affected by multiple sclerosis in 174 Texas counties. The Lone Star Chapter has offices in Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. We are people who want to do something about MS now. Join the movement at www.JointheMovementLoneStar.org.

Early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can make a difference for people with multiple sclerosis. Learn about your options by talking to your health care professional and contacting the National MS Society at www.nationalmssociety.org or 1-800-344-4867.

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