After Kelly Milligan, 34, found out a close friend in her life was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she decided to set out to help fight the debilitating disease.
Today, the Highland Creek resident is helping to raise money and awareness about the disease by participating in the 26th annual Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach Ride.
Milligan will depart Charlotte on Sept. 24 on a 150-mile journey to Sunset Beach on a mission to ride for those with MS and donate the money she collected from the community to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"I have a special person in my life that has been diagnosed with MS and they have not shared their story with everyone yet," said Milligan. "If I only have to ride a bike compared to some of the people with MS have to do, I can handle that."
Milligan said she has been cycling since last year and this is her first race for MS, although she has ridden in a of couple charity events. She will be joining the Wells Fargo team for the upcoming race.
She said the greatest challenges for her to overcome in the September race will be the first day distance of 100 miles and the heat.
To prepare, she has been spending as much time as possible on her bike and she participates in monthly organized rides.
"If me riding a bike will get us a little closer to a cure then I'll do it," said Milligan.
She said she is riding "to know that I might make the difference and to know that my fundraising may be what it took for us to make somebody's life to be a little easier or to find a cure for MS."
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease that affects a person's central nervous system. It is also thought to be an autoimmune disorder, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society website.
In the United State, approximately 400,000 people have MS, and every week about 200 people are diagnosed with the disease. About 2.5 million individuals are affected by MS worldwide, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society website.
Milligan encourages individuals in the community to donate whatever they can to help find a cure to MS, and no donation is too small.
"I think the biggest thing that people don't understand is that it's not how much one person can donate, it's the participation that's important," said Milligan.
Her goal is to collect $3,500 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and she hopes to exceed her mark. As of today, she is about $600 shy of her target.
"I obviously want to obtain my goal and pass it," she said. "I've had some people who've really come through for me."
Each participating racer is required to fundraise a minimum of $300 that will go to help 8,000 people in the Carolinas living with multiple sclerosis.
Riders during the race will spend the day biking with route support and catered meals. On the last day of the race there will be a beer garden, live music and cookout to celebrate the finish line and collected donations.