ARLINGTON, Va., April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Nick Irons began pedaling the first leg of a five-month, 10,000-mile trek, around the perimeter of the country. His mission is to raise money to fight Multiple Sclerosis -- a disease his father, Dr. John Irons, has lived with for more than 20 years. Departing from Washington, D.C., "Going the Distance" will travel south to Florida, west to California, up the coast to Washington, across to Connecticut, down through New York City and back to Washington, D.C.
Nick will ride through 29 states, 40 major cities and countless small towns. Along the way, he will be joined by experienced cyclists, people living with MS and those with loved ones affected by the disease.
This isn't the first time Nick has taken on an "impossible" challenge to raise money for MS research. During the summer of 1997, Irons swam the length of the Mississippi river -- more than 1,550 miles. Swimming five hours a day, six days a week for four months, Nick became the first person in history to continuously swim the length of the Mississippi River.
Inspired by what he had accomplished on the swim, Nick felt there was more he could do to help his dad and others with MS and he began planning his latest effort. The bike ride will raise over $3 million for MS research.
"For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to do something to help my dad improve his condition and make it so he doesn't struggle to walk each and every step," Nick said. "Through the swim and now with the nationwide bike tour, I am making a difference in the lives of people with MS. My ultimate goal is to find a cure for MS in my dad's lifetime."
Nick and his dad know first-hand some of the advances that have already been made through MS research. When Dr. Irons was first known to have MS, there were no treatments available. Now there are three medications -- Avonex(R), Betaseron(R) and Copaxone(R) -- to help lessen the frequency and severity of MS attacks and to slow the progression of the disease.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society encourages all people with relapsing-remitting forms of MS to seek treatment with one of the three approved medications as soon as possible after diagnosis. Dr. Irons takes Avonex.
"The next necessary step is to cure this disease," said Nick's dad, who was able to begin the ride with Nick on a three-wheel recumbent bike. "It's great that medications are helping many of us remain as healthy as possible, but we still need to find a cure."
Multiple Sclerosis is the most common chronic neurological condition affecting young adults in North America and Europe. It affects over 350,000 people in the United States and an estimated 1.5 million worldwide.
Nearly 10,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S. alone -- more than one new case every hour.
The onset of MS typically occurs between the ages of 20 and 40. Symptoms are variable, and may include vision problems, loss of balance, difficulty walking and paralysis.
Going the Distance: The Nationwide MS Bike Tour is sponsored by Biogen, Inc.
Funds raised will support the efforts of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, with 80 percent funding research programs and 20 percent funding programs important to people living with MS.
To learn more about Going the Distance, to follow Nick in his journey,
or to make a donation, visit http://www.goingthedistance.net or call 1-800-2-BEAT-MS.
NOTE: Event photographs to be available on PR Newswire by mid-afternoon
on Monday, April 3, 2000.
SOURCE Going the Distance
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