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Buffalo native participates in cross-country bike ride for MS

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The fight against multiple sclerosis can be a tough and long one, but several bicyclists are doing their part this weekend in Buffalo, including local rider Brian Joseph.

"Bike the US for MS" is a 4,300 mile journey to raise money and awareness for multiple sclerosis that started May 28th in Bar Harbor, Maine and will end August 4th in Seattle, Washington.

Joseph gave up his job as an information technology specialist at Canisius High School, a place he also went to as a student, so he could participate in the event.  Multiple sclerosis is something that's been visible in his family for most of his life.

“My Uncle Tom has been an extremely influential presence in my life. Even though his body has started to fail him, he’s been very active in sled hockey and raising money for the national MS society and volunteering for most of the last 20 years. I couldn’t even tell you for how long.”

Joseph sees this as an opportunity to make a direct impact in the battle against MS.

“We are doing service projects in a couple of places along our route across the country. To lay tile in a new bathroom renovation for someone who has been recently diagnosed or putting in a ramp where there were previously stairs. That kind of thing is how I perceived MS in my own life and it’s kind of gratifying to know that we will be helping out some folks that have been recently diagnosed themselves.”

Joseph compares being a part of this bike tour to when he was in boy scouts, except he’s getting to know everyone on a much faster basis.

”It’s almost like being in a fraternity of sorts. You’re dropped in very quickly and all of a sudden you are spending your time with the same 20 or so people. Fortunately, everyone is of a similar kind of mindset. So it all works really really well.”

Joseph has raised just over 5,000 dollars at this time, with some of his new friends currently raising over triple that amount already. He said it's special being back in Buffalo on this journey and getting to show people the city he loves and grew up in.

“Today we went to Niagara Falls and we rode all the way around the Niagara River on the Tonawanda side. We recently rode into the city of Buffalo itself. We stopped for a beverage at Resurgence brewing where they’re having a little festival thing going on. I get to show people around the Allentown Art Festival today and my stomping grounds.”

Joseph said he plans to return to Buffalo after the bike tour ends.

“I saved a little bit of money and paid off all my student loans. This is the right time... I’m still young. I don’t have a house to take care of or anything like that. Instead of hunkering down and doing something for another couple of years I’m just going to kind of move on to the next great thing.”

The group headed out for Lake Erie State park at 8 AM Sunday from the downtown hostel on Main Street.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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