(ADAM VOGLER) [Order this photo]
On Saturday, Hardesty and Getts started the 150-mile Bike MS: Express Trips Gateway Getaway Ride in Columbia, Mo. They'll finish the trek today. This is Hardesty's sixth ride and Getts' first.
"I first heard about the MS150 fundraiser in 1996," Hardesty said. "I like a challenge that pushes me out of my comfort zone, and I also like to help others. A 150-mile bike ride is definitely out of my comfort zone, and the money raised by this event is making a difference in people's lives right here in our area."
Hardesty began riding with his brother, who is also joining them. He said he began riding because he wanted to raise money for a good cause. He wanted to help find a cure for multiple sclerosis and provide assistance for those who have to deal with the debilitating illness every day.
"By the third year, a dear friend of mine had been diagnosed with MS, and I then had a personal connection," Hardesty said.
Hardesty said he has seen the MS Society benefit his friend and saw him go from being in a wheelchair to being able to walk with a cane in two years.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the disease affects more than 400,000 people in the United States and more than 2.1 million worldwide. Multiple sclerosis attacks an individual's central nervous system. Symptoms can range from mild numbness in the limbs to severe paralysis.
People diagnosed with multiple sclerosis are usually between age 20 and 50, and 75 percent are women.
"I want to do something for the people who have been diagnosed and because I want to do everything to prevent more people from learning what it means to live with this disease," Getts said.
Hardesty and Getts have been training for the past six weeks. They began at the end of July during the heat.
For the first three weeks, they rode on average two days a week in addition to their regular workout routines. They planned on ramping up training in the three weeks leading up to the ride to three days a week and 50 to 90 miles.
Hardesty and Getts planned to ride the first 100 miles yesterday and finish today.
"Most of what we do is train ourselves to stay in a bike seat for that long," Hardesty said.
Hardesty and Getts both stay active and have participated in the Polar Bear Plunge, 5K runs, kayaking, hiking, camping and other activities. Hardesty is planning on completing the Tough Mudder obstacle course in October. Getts is a senior recreation major at Southeast Missouri State University.
Hardesty said he has missed the bike ride the past couple of years and is looking forward to getting back into it. He described it as "quite an event."
According to him, there are more than 1,500 riders in this year's event. Each rider raises funds for their efforts. As of Wednesday, Hardesty and Getts had each raised $100, with a goal of $250 per person. Hardesty said the Gateway Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society has raised funds to help 6,800 individuals in 90 counties in eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois.
For more information about the bike ride, go to www.gatewaymsbikeride.org.