about Mrs. Patricia Dumais in the Westmount Examiner, by Ami Kingdon
Thirteen is Patricia Dumais's lucky number. That's the amount of dollars the Greene Avenue resident is trying to raise for each of the 172 kilometres she will cycle in the MS Rona Bike Tour later this month. Dumais belongs to the Spirit Riders, a cycling team that will ride through the Lévis region on August 29 and 30. The Bike Tour events take place across Canada each year to raise money for multiple sclerosis. This year the Spirit Riders are hoping to raise $30,000.
"Last year our team of 15 people raised $31,010," says Dumais, a graphic designer. "Each person raised over $2,000."
Dumais got into cycling seriously about 10 years ago. "Every weekend I do a nice long bike ride, 80 or 100 km," she says. She learned about the Bike Tour after joining outdoor club Randonnée Aventure. She decided to participate for the first time three years ago. Most of the Spirit Riders are members of the club.
Dumais says one of the reasons MS is a worthwhile cause is that current research is very promising. "Things are looking up," she says. "People with MS are faring much better."
Fellow biker Richard Lemire, of Ile Bizard, was diagnosed with MS 25 years ago. "Back then, the only thing they could give you was prednisone," says Lemire, who spent the first eight years of his illness in a wheelchair.
Now, with new treatments, he is back on the bike, riding last year in both Quebec events. Though the disease has prevented him from riding this year, he is travelling to four of the tours. He is optimistic about the search for a cure. "It's so important because we are so close," he says.
MS is a central nervous system disease in which the immune system attacks nerve cells, interfering with their ability to carry information. There is currently no cure. The MS Society of Canada says between 55,000 and 75,000 Canadians have the disease, one of the highest rates of incidence in the world. Treatments can run from $14,000 to $18,000 a year.
"Last year the bike tour raised $1.25 million," says Diane Rivard, of the Quebec branch of the MS Society. She expects $1.3 million this year from the Quebec tours. The profits will go equally to research and services to MS patients.
"We finance a lot of [research] projects in Quebec – around 20," she says.
While meeting people and raising money are some of the high points, Dumais says that her favourite part is the ride. "It's fun to just be on a bike," she says.
Patricia Dumais personal pledge page can be found at www.msofs.mssociety.ca