Bega MS sufferer praises Sydney to the Gong cyclists

ORGANISERS of last month’s Sydney to the Gong Bike Ride have thanked everyone involved for raising over $3.5million.

Adding their own admirable efforts to the kitty, the local contingent of Bega cyclists contributed $10,093 to the annual MS Society fundraiser.

John and Chrissy Carpenter, and Dean and Rebecca Whyman - along with a group of friends from Canberra - rode the 90km from Sydney to Wollongong.

Dean’s father Graeme Whyman said it was a great achievement and thanked everyone who supported the team and the cause.

Graeme didn’t do the ride himself – he was only recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).

“It started to hit me really quickly and I spent a lot of time in a wheelchair,” he said.

“I probably have had it for years but never knew.”

Graeme said his official diagnosis came about after one of his legs started dragging one morning and on another occasion he collapsed while working in his yard.

MS is a chronic disease affecting the central nervous system and can often be progressive.

It is estimated over 23,000 Australians suffer from MS and around 1000 are diagnosed each year.

A cause and a cure are yet to be found.

Graeme said aside from ongoing trouble walking, he is also intolerant to heat.

“My doctor said no two MS sufferers have the same symptoms,” he said. 

“I’m lucky I don’t get much pain – some do.

“I still have a little trouble walking – I walk like I’m drunk.

“I might wake up one day and can’t walk at all, but the next day I’m fine.

“You just don’t know when it will hit you.

“There is nothing wrong with my legs, it’s just the signal doesn’t get through.

“MS is a hideous thing.”

Money raised from fundraisers such as the Sydney to the Gong Bike Ride go towards the MS Society’s various support services, including phone counselling, education and advice, health and wellness programs, and in some cases respite and accommodation.

Graeme said he has also been assisted with ramps and handrails installed at his home, and new air-conditioning to help with his heat-intolerance.

“I want to thank everyone who donated to the team and show them it does go towards tangible support.”

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