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MS TRAM cyclists ride through PR

Mary Ernst, of Shakopee, participates in MS TRAM to support her friends and family who live with Multiple Sclerosis. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)1 / 2
Barbara Mathison and Darrell Wilson, with the Hubbard Methodist Church biking group, volunteer at Heartland Park Tuesday afternoon. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)2 / 2

A thunderstorm early Wednesday morning didn't dampen spirits as more than 1,000 cyclists took refuge at Park Rapids schools overnight.

The cyclists arrived at Heartland Park Tuesday in Park Rapids as part of the week-long Bike MS TRAM (Multiple Sclerosis's The Ride Across Minnesota).

By mid-Tuesday, the cyclists, who rode from Walker that morning, had set up camp in Heartland Park. It was filled with tents. Cyclists spent the afternoon and evening checking out downtown, taking a shuttle to Dorset or eating and relaxing at Heartland Park.

Money raised by cyclists riding in TRAM is used to support research to find the cause of and cure for MS and support programs that enhance the quality of life for people who have Multiple Sclerosis and their families.

Mary Ernst, of Shakopee, has participated in the TRAM 20 times. This year's TRAM was the 23rd annual.

"I was part of the first ride, took some time off and then came back," she said.

She rides for the many friends and relatives she knows who have MS.

"I've been able to see how our fundraising helps those by helping with support programs," Ernst said.

TRAM has also become an annual tradition for many riders.

Ron Heruth, of Hoyt Lakes, has also been riding for 20 years.

"You get to know the people over the years and it becomes kind of like a reunion," he said.

Bob Pedersen, of southern California, rode for the first time in Minnesota.

"I have relatives near here and will spend a few weeks in the Midwest," he said. "My partner and her daughter have MS and this is a way I can help."

Mary Nelson, of Austin, has participated in every TRAM event and thinks it's a good cause.

"I've been blessed with good help so I want to help others who haven't been as fortunate," she said.

She enjoys seeing the communities step up and show off their towns.

"Park Rapids does a great job," Nelson said.

Local volunteers helped organize the campground, provided medical services, shuttle buses, food, beverage and more.

Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber director Katie Magozzi said the day was successful because of the volunteers. As organizers heard about the looming storm threat, they began working with school officials to secure a location to move the cyclists to the schools.

"They were tired but safe," Magozzi said.

The storm passed through Park Rapids by the time TRAM cyclists took off Wednesday morning.

Event coordinator Aaron Briner said local law enforcement and others were very helpful in moving everyone to the schools and everyone was in good spirits the next morning.

Cyclists headed to Wadena Wednesday, followed by Fergus Falls and Alexandria to conclude the approximately 250-mile ride.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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