The Huntsville Fire Department’s new volunteer is committed not only to public safety but to a unique method of charity fundraising — cross-country bicycling for Multiple Sclerosis research.

Stephen Rosenberger, an 18-year-old Huntsville resident, will ride with the Coast to Coast for MS Atlantic Coast Team from Bar Harbor, Maine to Key West, Fla, in an effort to raise money and awareness about the disease.

The 2,636 mile journey, which Rosenberger will complete with seven other cyclists, begins May 20.

“I met [Ride Coordinator/Route Leader] Cameron Swengel two years ago when I did a different ride from Virginia to California, and that was when I learned to use my dreams for a cause,” Rosenberger said. “When Cameron and I met, it made me aware of how prevalent Multiple Sclerosis is in the United States, and we decided to put together this charity ride for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“We’ve raised $15,000 so far, and our goal is to raise $30,000 by the time we leave in May.”

While on the journey down the Atlantic coast, the cyclists will be meeting individuals with MS to see how their lives have been affected by the disease. They also plan to educate various groups about the devastating effects MS has on both individuals and their families.

“Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that affects and essentially attacks the central nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves,” Rosenberger said. “When I met Cameron on my first ride, I found out that his father has MS and his grandfather had passed away due to MS. After spending time with him and his father and becoming close to them, I felt like this cause was something I wanted to help out with.

“Since I already enjoy biking long distances, I figured why not use it for something good, something useful?”

Rosenberger and the rest of the Atlantic Coast Team will average approximately 88 miles each day, stop at hotels and camp grounds each night, and work in educational stops.

The group will also be followed by a support vehicle which will hold their gear and repair supplies for their bicycles.

As route leader, Rosenberger will be responsible for tracking the team’s progress, keeping them on a pre-determined route and setting benchmarks.

According to HFD Assistant Chief John Hobbs, Rosenberger has worked diligently both to earn a place with the department and to prepare for the ride.

“We’re very fortunate to have a young man like this in our community that wants to become a part of the HFD team,” Hobbs said. “He’s been riding out with us for about eight or nine months, participating in drills and developing an excellent rapport with our paid staff and volunteers.

“The community of Huntsville and Walker County needs to support this young man. He is showing a great level of initiative and working to find a cure for a terrible disease.”

For more information, contact Rosenberger at stephenrosenberger09@gmail.com or (936) 355-5748

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