BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Lauren Tait of Clarkston has her summer plans set — she’s going to cycle across the country to help those suffering from Multiple sclerosis.
“I chose to do my trip with Bike the US for MS because it is one of the diseases that you have heard of, but typically don’t know very much about it,” said Tait, who graduated from Clarkston High School in 2016 and is going to college at Bowling Green State University. “It correlates with my sorority Sigma Kappa’s philanthropy, the Alzheimer’s Foundation, which has to do with memory loss, and the causes are also unknown for it. Both causes hit home very much as memories matter, and that shouldn’t be taken away from anyone.”
Many people suffering from symptoms of MS are in excruciating pain everyday, she said.
“Most people, when they are diagnosed, are around the age of 30, which is such a young age to live with this disease for the rest of your life,” she said. “MS affects your central nervous system and has many and possibly long lasting symptoms such as memory loss, numbness, pain, fatigue, or even blindness. MS currently is not understood in the slightest.”
This journey is 69 days long and goes through 15 states from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Seattle, Washington, for a total of 4,295 miles cycled.
“Actually, I’ve never been riding more than what the average child does, which sounds absolutely crazy, especially because I don’t even own the bike that I will be riding yet, but I am young and healthy and am dedicated to ride for those who can’t.”
The tour leaves from Bar Harbor, on May 28, and reaches Seattle, Aug. 4.
“My training for right now, because of the snow and cold weather, is to ride the stationary bike at the gym and lifting weights to get myself into better cardiovascular shape, getting myself stronger, while getting my endurance up all while working on abdominal strength to be able to keep my balance,” she said.
This spring, Tait will train outdoors in windy Bowling Green, Ohio, and hopes to train in more hilly areas. So far, the biker said training has been going well.
“My legs are not as sore sitting in the saddle for long periods of time, and I have been riding pretty close to every day. I need to prepare my mind as well, as I know this journey will be hard and I will want to give up at some points, but I have to keep pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone,” she said. “Bike the US for MS very highly recommends that you ride 500 miles, one day of at least 60+ miles, and two days back to back of 50 miles on the bike you will be using for the tour.”
Tait’s biggest goal is to stay mentally tough.
“I know many people have accomplished this route before me, and I know it is going to be tough; I just have to keep reminding myself that I am strong, and that I can finish, and finish strong,” she said.
Participants raise donations for the project, $1 per mile for a total of $4,295.
Donate at the “Lauren Tait” page at biketheusforms.org, or by sending checks to Bike the US for MS PO Box 10001 Blacksburg, VA, with “Lauren Tait” on the memo line.
“They can also help by sending me letters of encouragement at the various mail drop locations found on my donor page, or they can even help by joining the tour themselves,” she said.
Tait has been volunteering all her life, including Clarkston summer volleyball camp, local nursing homes, and blood drives.
“Since beginning college, I have done Adopt-a-Highway programs, volunteering at nursing homes, participating in the walk to end Alzheimer’s twice, cleaning and painting an after school program for troubled children in Toledo, and packaging care packages for the Maine sea cost mission,” she said. “I strive to help others, and put them before myself.”
BY PHIL CUSTODIO