By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario –As 38-year-old Danielle Avery pedaled towards the tour's final destination, her disease was forced to take a backseat.
© Adam Brazeau
38-year-old Danielle Avery, who lives with relapsed-remitting multiple sclerosis, stands in the middle of her fundraising team at the 2013 Ottawa to Cornwall MS Bike Tour. They raised $5,000 for MS research. Pictured (from left) Amanda Brandimore, Greg Crevier, Liz King and Alicia Weiss.
For four years, Avery, who lives with relapsed-remitting multiple sclerosis, has been raising thousands as a cyclist in the MS Bike Tour.
"It makes me feel important," said Avery. "It's empowering."
Avery raised $2,000 herself this year for the MS Society of Canada and $5,000 all together with her bike team.
At the 24th annual Ottawa to Cornwall MS Bike Tour (formerly Ottawa to Kemptville for 22 years), 650 cyclists of all ages rallied together to end multiple sclerosis.
The tour started at the Metcalfe Arena, with 100km or 75km route options, winding down at the Long Sault Parkway and following through to Cornwall's Nav Centre.
"Sometimes when you have a disability, you feel invisible," said Avery.
But there was no missing her and the hundreds of cyclists zooming through trails and winding roads over the weekend.
Avery was diagnosed with MS in 2008. Several times during that year she went temporarily blind in one eye. She said it has impacted her cognitive skills, memory and energy levels.
"Otherwise I'm very healthy," said Avery.
She is currently on a "fantastic trial drug" named Altumtuzmab - a chemotherapy drug. She said it's being used in Britain and will launch in Canada in a year or two.
Avery lives in Ottawa and said the Seaway City is very scenic, the drivers are courteous and the roads are pretty new.
"Cornwall is beautiful," said Avery.
Surrounded by cyclists, Avery noted that the event is a real way to fight back against her disease. Her journey with MS, whether on or off two wheels, is not one she faces alone. Avery's teammates stood by her side, beaming with pride in celebration of a bike ride that has changed their lives and many others.
"I have a lot of gratitude for the people here and my health," said Avery.
To get more information visit, http://msbiketours.ca/.