What started as a modest goal of raising money to fund research for multiple sclerosis has reached extraordinary levels over Dorchester resident Barry Travnicek’s 24 years of fundraising.
He is the event’s top fundraiser in Ontario, and the second in all of Canada, raising tens of thousands of dollars each year for the cause – he estimates he will have raised $450,000 in total after July’s event.
“There is no question: the event has grown exponentially since the first year,” Travnicek says. When he started out, only 350 riders participated in the event, while this year, they expect as many as 2,000.
Again next weekend, Travnicek will mount his bicycle and ride the familiar route from Grand Bend to London.
He says that he has been grateful each year for the help and support of the Dorchester community. “This little village has done a lot, I have nothing but praise and thanks.”
Along with businesses and individuals who lend support to the cause, this year, he again received a cheque for almost $4,050 from the municipality for money that was raised at the spring Charity Depot. The money will go towards his fundraising goal of $70,000, which Travnicek is confident he will achieve.
In the same vein, the MS society has made progress in treating the disease since Travnicek started fundraising. His own sister has been battling MS since 1990, and Travnicek rides each year in support of her. He admits it has not been a pleasant journey for her.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the central nervous system of those affected. The disease takes different forms from victim to victim, and is not always easily diagnosed. MS can result in paralysis and blindness, but the progression is often long and difficult.
“When my sister was diagnosed, the doctor said there was nothing to do, they sent her home and told her to call if things got worse.” Now, there are several treatments that improve the lives of those suffering multiple sclerosis, but no cure, Travnicek says.
“They haven’t fixed it, but it makes the condition bearable, they can lead more relatively normal lives.”
He adds that Canada has some of the highest rates of MS. “I’m not a doctor. I can’t obviously solve this, I help by raising money.”
Even though they cannot cure the disease themselves, the entire Travnicek family is dedicated to the cause. His daughter cycled in the event a few times, and now works with the MS society to co-ordinate the Grand Bend to London ride. His son has also joined him for the event.
You can support Travnicek online through the MS Bike Tour website here.