Meet the MS 150's fundraising legend: Michael Hurd makes a bigger differencewith every ride
In two short years, Michael Hurd has become a fundraising legend at the BP MS 150, the springtime Houston-to-Austin bike trek for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society that kicks off Saturday morning. The two-day, 180-mile journey — the "150" is a bit of a misnomer — is the largest charitable bike ride in Texas.
When Hurd launched his cycling group Team Standard Tube in 2010 with two close friends and the generous sponsorship from his employer, Hurd never imagined he would earn the distinction of being the top-fundraising team captain for last year's tour.
"Someone with MS deals with pain every single day, doing minor things like climbing the stairs," said Michael Hurd. "We only spend two days a year riding to Austin."
"The three of us raised a total of $12,000 our first year," he told CultureMap in a phone interview. "In 2011, though, we doubled the size of our team to six and raised twice as much.
"This year we have nine riders, so we're hoping to raise at least $36,000."
Hurd started biking seriously in late 2008, taking inspiration from his boss at Standard Tube who participated in the MS 150 event every year in recognition of his wife's own struggles with multiple sclerosis.
"Honestly, I gained a lot of weight when I finished college," Hurd laughed. "One day, I walked into the office and saw my boss' bike leaning against the wall and it clicked for me as a way to get in shape. Before long, I was asking my roommate and another buddy of mine to start a team for the MS 150."
After injuring his knee several years ago, Hurd's boss stopped riding in the event and looked to Team Standard Tube to carry the torch, promising the company would cover as many of the team's costs as possible.
"Let me tell you, riding to Austin and crossing that finish line for the first time was the best thing I've even done with my life," Hurd said. "Someone with MS deals with pain every single day, doing minor things like climbing the stairs. We only spend two days a year riding to Austin."
But this year's ride is more important than ever to Hurd. In December 2011, his sister was diagnosed with MS, joining the 56,000 Texans and nearly half a million Americans affected the debilitating neurological disease.
"We still don't know a lot about the disease," Hurd said. "There's so much more research that needs to be done . . . I'm glad I've started doing this when I'm young, because I plan to ride for multiple sclerosis as long as it takes."
Nearly 13,000 cyclists to gathered at the starting line in Katy and Waller on Saturday morning and finished in downtown Austin on Sunday. Visit the MS 150 website for route details and information on how to donate.