* * * I have permission from the "Star Ledger" newspaper to copy word for word on my web page. The article you are about to read is from September 15, 1996 by Towanda Underdue the reporter. It was in the front page of the Essex County Section of the Sunday Star Ledger on page 29. The article has been modified a bit.
Fund-raiser for MS puts his pedal to the mettle"
* He has difficulty seeing and adjusts his hearing-aid while holding conversations. But 26-year-old Mike Dowd of Belleville doesn't have time to dwell in his disabilities.
* He's too busy helping others.
* "I've been riding in bike tours since I was 20," said Dowd, who pedals in the annual Multiple Sclerosis MS-100 Bike Tour fund-raiser. "I just love the challenge of biking."
* Dowd's commitment to helping others recently earned him the 1996 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Mid-Jersey Chapter of the National MS Society. The cyclist got the award last month after consistently getting sponsors to back him in the bike tours, promoting tours through the internet and soliciting funds in his community.
* "We only gave out one Outstanding Achievement Award this year and he got it because he has been involved with the society for so long and he has overcome his disabilities," said society spokeswoman Stacey Boman. "He doesn't have multiple sclerosis, but he's an inspiration to some people who does."
* Dowd got hooked in biking when he impulsivley jumped on his bike and pedaled 6 1/2 hours from his Belleville apartment to a friend's house in Newton.
* "I was going to come back on the bike," he recalled. "But I was so tired when I got to my friend's house that I came back in a cab with my bike thrown in the trunk."
* Dowd and his grandfather paid $65 for cab fare that day, and Dowd's mother was furious that he rode his bike to the point of exhaustion, but Dowd said the experience exposed him to a new hobby.
* He has raised thousands of dollars for the MS Society by getting corporate sponsors to back him in the MS 100 tours from 1990 through 1996 and the Coast the Coast MS tours in 1993, 94, 95 and 96.
* Boman said the society appreciates Dowd and the hundreds of others who raised $185.000 during the 1996 MS-100 tour two weeks ago. She said the money will be used to search for a cure for MS, a chronic, often progressive and disabling disease of the central nervous system believed to result from a disfunctional immune system.
* Twice as many woman as men develop MS, which usually strikes between ages 20 and 40, with the symptoms ranging from imbalance and numbness to paralysis and blindness. Some MS suffers hold full-time jobs while others are too disabled to work.
* The society, established in 1947, has invested $200 million in research in the hope of finding a cure for MS. Boman said the society also provides counseling and equipment to its 2,500 clients with special needs.
* Dowd doesn't have the disease, but he participates in MS bike tours because he likes helping people in need.
* "I may get sore after riding, but that soreness goes away in a few hours to a few days," Dowd said. "People who have multiple sclerosis may have soreness for a long time."