Pushing their limits for a cause

Erin Hooten, left, and Stephanie Yelenik will embark on a 100-mile bike ride at the end of the month to raise awareness and money for the MS Foundation. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

Two Oregon State women will be participating in the longest bike ride they’ve ever made at the end of the month, and raising money and awareness for a good cause at the same time.

Stephanie Yelenik, a faculty research associate in forest ecosystems and society, and Erin Hooten, a graduate student in the same department, are participating in the 2010 Bike MS century ride in Portland on July 31. The 100-mile ride takes participants through the Willamette Valley and the Columbia River Gorge.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system. Its cause is unknown, and its effects range from mild mobility loss to severe neurological dysfunction.

Yelenik was invited by a friend to be a part of the “Fish for a cure” team in this year’s event. She accepted because she liked the idea of pushing herself to new limits, and because she has a personal interest in finding a cure for MS.

“I have family members who have passed away from MS,” Yelenik said.

To make a donation

To make a donation to either Hooten or Yelenik’s ride:

All proceeds go to the National MS Society.

Because Yelenik does not do many long-distance bike rides, she asked her friend, Hooten, to join her.

“I roped Erin in, because she’s done a lot more cycling,” Yelenik said. “She was all gung ho for it.”

“I’ve never done a century ride before but I wanted to,” Hooten said. The event helps her meet that personal goal and participate in a good cause, she said.

More than 7,000 people in Oregon and southwest Washington have been diagnosed with MS. The disease affects a disproportionate number of people in the Pacific Northwest, Hooten said, which makes it all the more important to raise awareness in Oregon about the disease.

Each participant must raise at least $250 in donations in order to participate. The goal of the event is to support those diagnosed with MS and work toward finding a cure for the disease.

Because the 100-mile ride is farther than either woman has ever biked before, they’re planning on pacing themselves.

Both women plan on doing some 30-50 mile bike rides before the event, but figure that hydration, pit stops and plenty of protein and electrolytes will keep them going during the century ride, as well as the support of family and friends. The event is fully supported, meaning there will be volunteers providing them water, snacks and places to break for food when they need it.

~ Theresa Hogue

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