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Bicyclist rides cross-country for MS

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
March 21, 2011 at 8:04 p.m.
Updated March 20, 2011 at 10:21 p.m.

Thomas Beasley stands with his bicycle Monday outside of his hotel room at the Quality Inn. Beasley is riding across America to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He leaves Victoria for Houston on Tuesday at 11 a.m. to continue his 59th trip across the country raising money to help those with MS. Beasley plans to end his trip in San Francisco by Thanksgiving.

For more than two decades, Thomas Beasley has raised awareness and funds for multiple sclerosis. With nothing more than a Trek Alpha bicycle and a mission to assist the National MS Society fund their patients' needs, the 42-year-old Beasley has managed to accumulate $121,496 while biking cross-country.

"It's a mean disease," Beasley said. "Cancer is mean, Alzheimer's is mean, but MS is one of the meanest."

Beginning his 59th nationwide trip in Shreveport last January, Beasley is bike riding through the southern states before heading north to New York, then west to California, stopping in about 100 cities along the way. On Monday, Beasley rested in Victoria.

"I want to hit 250,000 miles, and then I'll consider stopping," he said, admitting he made the same claim when he approached 100,000 miles on the bike.

Every week, Beasley rides about 1,000 miles, or 10,000 miles over the course of his 10-month-long ride. To date, he's spent 20 years, two months and 21 days riding for MS, a total of 232,000 miles.

Beasley's heart for MS began in 1990, when a close friend died of the disease, he said.

"He never told me he had it," Beasley said. "Back then, you didn't talk about it."

It was the reality of a friend dying, coupled with other MS fundraisers he supported at the time, that eventually convinced Beasley he needed to help the cause long term.

While riding through the United States, Beasley said he'll stop at local businesses and ask them to support the National MS Society.

"This gets awareness out there because there's spaces in between MS events where support fades," Beasley said. "Riding a bike and raising money leaves an impression on people."

When asked why he's continued to ride for so many consecutive years, Beasley said, "I feel as long as I'm making a difference in this world, I figure I might as well do what I'm good at; and riding a bike is what I'm good at."

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