July 25, 2016

Partly sunny

Guilford woman rides bike to combat multiple sclerosis

BRUNSWICK — Michelle Cloonan is no stranger to taking on a challenge.

The Guilford Township resident and mother of three was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005, five years after her husband was diagnosed with the same nervous system disease.

Michelle Cloonan, left, will ride 80 miles on a tandem bike with professional cyclist Ashley James for the Bike MS: Pedal to the Point on Saturday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JENNIFER PIGNOLET)

On Saturday, she faced a different challenge: an 80-mile bike ride from Brunswick to Sandusky.

Cloonan was to ride a tandem bike with professional cyclist Ashley James for the annual Bike MS: Pedal to the Point, which leaves from Brunswick High School this morning. The event has 2,800 riders.
“I’ve been riding around Medina trying to prepare,” Cloonan said.

For her, she said, the ride is a chance to show her kids that even though she has MS, she still can be a leader both for her family and the community.

“Even though I have MS, it doesn’t have me,” Cloonan said.

Finishing the ride will be a major accomplishment, she said, although she joked about quietly sitting back and letting James do all the work.

James, who lives in North Carolina, said this is her first ride with the Multiple Sclerosis Society, although someone from her team is at every event.

“I’ve met so many incredible people through this,” she said. “I’m really grateful to be here.”

The pair will be one of four tandem teams, one of which will be led by Phil Keoghan, host of ABC’s “The Amazing Race.”

The ride is one of three Keoghan is doing to support to the MS cause.

Keoghan, who met riders at the pre-event at Brunswick High School on Friday, said he supports the cause because he can be involved more than just handing over a check.
“I kind of got caught up in the energy of it all,” he said.

This is the first year Brunswick has hosted the event. Riders have the option of driving or riding their bicycles back.

The other four Northeast Ohio residents with MS who are riding tandem with celebrities include men from Mentor and Tiffin, along with Brunswick resident Adam Riedy.

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.