Cactus and Crude bike ride to raise money for MS research

For 20 years, area people and organizations have been coming together for the Cactus and Crude Bike Ride to help those with multiple sclerosis (MS). On July 21 and 22, it will happen once again. “This is something that gets people together helping people who can't help themselves,” said David Ham, owner of Peyton's Bike in Midland. Riders will leave Midland and make the ride to Big Spring. Upon arrival — with the first leg arriving around 10:30 a.m. and the last leg around 3 p.m. — riders will be treated to a luncheon provided by the Howard County Volunteer Fire Department and have the option of staying in a hotel or being housed at the SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf campus for the night. Halliburton will be providing dinner for the riders that evening. In the morning, the local Rotary Club will be providing breakfast before the riders get back on their way for the final 75-mile stretch to Post. “We have learned you get better participation if you have a destination,” Ham said. “This is two 75-mile rides, not necessarily a 150-mile ride.”The first Cactus and Crude Bike Ride started with 25 participants and has continued to grow ever since. Last year, there were 180 participants. This year, Ham is hoping for 200. Registration for riders is $30 with a $250 minimum donation. Funds raised during the ride will go toward the assistance of educational programs, scholarships, finances and research. “Since the beginning of this ride, there has been a lot of progress made. When we started we didn't have the medicines that we do now,” Ham said. “Now, with all the medications that are available, people with MS can live a somewhat normal life.“Right now we are trying to control MS and at this point slow it down. The long-term goal is to find a cure.”Last year, the ride brought in around $200,000 for the MS Society. The Cactus and Crude Bike Ride is the largest fundraiser of the year. There are 52 counties serviced by the MS Society, extending from El Paso to Sweetwater and Lubbock to San Angelo. MS is a neurological disease that affects the spine and the brain stem. There are several symptoms associated with the disease, but the most common and noticeable are the effects on walking ability and loss of sight. There is also a low heat tolerance. According to statistics, there are 10,000 people in the United States diagnosed with MS. “We are always needing volunteers and riders,” Ham said. To find out more about the ride or how to help the MS Society, call Ham at Payton's Bikes, 432-699-1718, or go online to register