SOURCE: National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lone Star Chapter

March 05, 2007 14:06 ET

National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lone Star Chapter Gears Up for 23rd Annual BP MS 150 Bike Tour

Thousands of Cyclists Expected to Pedal 180 Miles From Houston to Austin to Raise Funds for MS

HOUSTON, TX -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 5, 2007 -- The largest non-profit sporting event in Texas and the largest event of its kind in the United States is celebrating its 23rd year in the fight against multiple sclerosis (MS). In its history, the Houston-to-Austin Bike Tour has raised more than $60 million to end the devastating effects of MS. The BP MS 150 Bike Tour will unite riders of all ages and interests who are either personally affected or ride to raise awareness. Riders pedal the scenic 180-mile route with a common goal: to end the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis.

"The BP MS 150 has become our largest fund-raising event," said Mark Neagli, Lone Star Chapter president. "We continue to be amazed each year by the amount of people wanting to participate on some level, whether it be riding, sponsoring a cyclist or volunteering. It is because of their support that we exceeded our fund-raising goal with a record $11.4 million last year and we expect to break that record this year."

The Tour starts in Houston on Saturday, April 21 and finishes at the state Capitol in Austin on Sunday, April 22, after an overnight celebration in La Grange. The 180-mile journey begins Saturday morning from two starting points -- Houston's Tully Stadium and Rhodes Stadium in Katy. Cyclists then ride through the Texas Hill Country along a carefully-planned route. On day two, riders can opt for one of two routes into downtown Austin.

Riders and teams from across the United States and throughout the world take part in the annual event. In 2006, nearly 12,000 cyclists raised $11.4 million for chapter programs and research to end the devastating effects of MS, exceeding the fund-raising goal. People of all ages participated in the record-breaking event; the youngest rider was 6 years old, while the oldest participant was 92 years of age. Like the 2006 BP MS 150, registration for the Ride has been capped to preserve the integrity of the Bike Tour; registration for this year closed in record time.

BP is the title sponsor for the Bike Tour through 2009 and has achieved status as the largest team for the past six years. Team BP not only generates a massive number of participants, with 750 members this year, but they also raise a significant amount of funds. Since 2000, Team BP has raised more than $3.6 million, making them the largest fund-raising team as well. BP's six-year partnership with the Lone Star Chapter has generated more than $10 million in sponsorship dollars, fund-raising and marketing. BP now has teams participating in MS 150s all around the nation and it all started here in the Lone Star Chapter.

The BP MS 150 Houston-to-Austin Bike Tour is one of three fundraising rides that the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lone Star Chapter hosts in Texas, including the North Texas SAM'S CLUB MS 150 Bike Tour, presented by Subway and Elk, on May 5-6 and the Valero MS 150 Bike to the Beach Bike Tour, presented by H-E-B, from San Antonio to Corpus Christi in October. All three are regarded by cyclists as the premier rides in Texas, with experienced management, well-coordinated routes, and special attention to riders' safety and comfort.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lone Star Chapter

Studies show that early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can reduce future disease activity and improve quality of life for many people with multiple sclerosis. Talk to your health care professional and contact the National MS Society at or 1-800-FIGHT-MS to learn about ways to help manage MS and about current research that may one day reveal a cure.

Celebrating more than 50 years in the fight against multiple sclerosis, the Lone Star Chapter serves more than 17,000 individuals who are affected by multiple sclerosis in 141 Texas counties. The chapter is number one in the nation financially, geographically and in terms of population served. While there is no cure yet, FDA-approved medications can significantly reduce the number of acute attacks and delay the onset of permanent disabilities. All funds are privately raised and 83 cents of each dollar spent funds programs, research and national activities. The Lone Star Chapter has offices in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and Corpus Christi.

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