Annual Bike Ride for Multiple Sclerosis Offers Chance for Riders, Radio Operators to Give Back
State College Magisterial District Judge Carmine Prestia and his wife, Elaine, have personally felt the impact of multiple sclerosis after the autoimmune disease claimed the life of Elaine Prestia’s younger sister a number of years ago.
On Saturday, both Prestias will participate in the annual Bike MS: Keystone County Ride, a major fundraising event for the Western Pennsylvania chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis society.
They have been involved with the fundraiser for more years than Prestia can remember. Each year, over 500 bike riders set out from Holidaysburg in Blair County to make the almost 50 mile ride to the Penn Stater Hotel in State College. The next morning, the riders begin the trip again, traveling all the way back to Holidaysburg.
Prestia, in addition to his work as a judge and former police officer, is also an amateur radio operator, and will assist in coordinating the race’s communication efforts over the weekend.
“Emergency services is in my blood,” Prestia says. “I’ve always had an interest in communications, so this is a chance to take my hobby and do something that’s really worthwhile.”
Since the elaborate ride follows smaller back roads through rural areas, Prestia says he and other volunteer amateur radio operators from the surrounding counties will track the race’s progress and dispatch support and gear vans as necessary. He and the other operators will spring into action for anything ranging from a broken bike chain to a medical emergency.
With the help of the Centre Region Council of Governments, which has loaned out the regional Command Van to serve as a mobile communication center for the weekend’s event, Prestia says he’s excited for the chance to help others while indulging in his passions.
“Participating in this every year is my wife and I’s personal contribution to the MS society,” Prestia says. “This is a way for us to do something in memory of Sheila.”