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Renee LoSapio Set to Tackle Cross-Country Fundraising Bike Tour

Virginia Tech student plans to join Bike the US for MS project after graduation.

What’s it like to live out of a duffle bag and set off for a two-month, cross-country, quadriceps-powered ride? Ask Virginia Tech student and Warren Township resident Renee LoSapio.

By day, LoSapio, who is graduating in May with a master’s degree in urban planning from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, crunches data and numbers for the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development.

By night, LoSapio raises funds for Bike the US for MS. Bike the US for MS, a nonprofit organization promoting awareness for multiple sclerosis research, sponsors the tour.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic and often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous systems of an estimated 400,000 people. 

In 2010, riders pedaled 3,800 miles to raise more than $100,000, starting out in Virginia and ending up at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. The group also engages in service projects such as building a ramp for MS patients. 

"I first learned about Bike the US for MS while working with a colleague, Mason, at school," says LoSapio. "After Mason told me about his experiences, I knew I had to take part in this journey."

This will be LoSapio's first cross-country bike tour—she says she's never biked more than 30 miles at once before.

The largest target demographic for Bike the US for MS is college students because they have the summer off, but the tour has attracted retirees as well.

"I'm glad I have the opportunity to be apart of this ride after finishing my degree," LoSapio said. "I know it will be both a challenging and humbling experience."

The disease is personal for Mason Cavell and Don Fraser, the original organizers of the non-profit. After learning that Fraser’s mother was diagnosed with MS, the two Virginia natives decided to organize a cross-country tour to raise awareness of this debilitating disease. Even though the premier goal is to help others, the rewards for Cavell have been many.

“Seeing the backroads of America from the vantage point of a bicycle is a life-changing experience,” he says.

The tours raise money that mounts when each rider brings pledges of $1 per mile or more. On a good-weather day, riders can cover 70 miles or more before sundown. On the website, each rider is featured with a page, such as LoSapio's, along with a tally of his or her pledges. In addition to sponsorship from her friends and family, LoSapio has been selling her "bike-themed" artwork locally to raise money for the trip. 100 percent of the proceeds from her artwork sales will go to Bike the US for MS. 

Upcoming tours are May 28th to Aug. 4, Maine to Seattle; and June 1 to August 1, Yorktown, VA to San Francisco, Calif. Bike the US for MS also hosts self-contained routes. 

A two-month ride will require approximately $1,500 for food and campsite lodging costs, and bikers will also need a tent and sleeping bag. Anyone interested in joining one of the 2013 tours can contact Cavell at mason@biketheusforms.org. If interested in seeing LoSapio's artwork, please send an email to rlosapio@vt.edu.

Submitted by Renee LoSapio

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