Next Sunday, November 2nd, Sydney, Australia will hold one of the country’s largest fundraising events to support multiple sclerosis research and advocacy, the MS Gong Ride, a one day community bike ride designed to collect $3.8 million. Each biker is asked to help raise $250 for the historic ride that celebrates its 32nd anniversary this year.
The Soft Cogs, a group comprised of miners from Hunter, is participating in the event for the ninth year. They have already contributed more than $800,000 and have now raised their game, as they established their own target of raising $1 million until next year, when they will celebrate the tenth year of participation in the ride. This year their budget already reached the $32,000.
“I definitely didn’t know a lot about multiple sclerosis before joining the Soft Cogs,” explained Gary Wills in an article in The Advertiser entitled, “Cyclists Combine for a Good Cause.” Wills is one of the local cyclists who is going to ride on Sunday, as he believes that the event is a great way of combining both the enthusiasm for cycling and helping support a good cause. “During the fundraising process, I have certainly had me eyes open to the personal experiences of people living with the disease. It is so debilitating and the stories or resilience that I have become aware of are just incredible.”
In addition to being able to help patients suffering from the most common neurological disease in young adults, Wills explained that since he started riding in 2008, he had been able to get to know several interesting people, including the event’s ambassadors, like the comedian Tim Ferguson. “Meeting Tim was definitely a highlight,” he said. “He spoke so passionately and just hearing about his personal experience and journey was very moving.”
Gary Wills has reached the top 100 list of the MS Gong Ride’s best individual fundraisers several times through the years, and on the website of the event, supporters can look for the name of a participant and donate, not only supporting the cause, but also raising a rider’s fund level. In addition, the team has a website of its own, called SoftCogsInc.com, in which more information is provided and there is also the possibility to make donations or buy supportive materials.
The Soft Cogs official jersey is worn by about 100 riders, and the team is comprised of not only Hunter miners, but also friends, and members of MS families. According to the team captain Kim Nguyen, the team accepts anyone willing to help. “We’re great for beginners because we’re about fun and just getting people into active healthy lifestyles and we’re predominantly local so it’s pretty social as well,” Nguyen said. “A lot of people that ride know someone that has multiple sclerosis and we’ve learnt a lot more about this debilitating disease since we started riding.”