Last September, Mike Zimits and Catherine Tsigakos got back on their bicycles for the first time in years and rode through Long Island to the famous Montauk Lighthouse with Team MSAA. This September, they’ll be doing it again! How did Mike and Catherine become such fierce MSAA supporters?
Mike Zimits was diagnosed with MS in 1998 – up until his diagnosis, Mike was leading what he describes as an “unhealthy lifestyle.” To get back in shape, he took up cycling. Ten years prior to Mike’s diagnosis, Catherine’s brother Peter, a close friend of Mike, was also diagnosed with MS. Together, Mike and Catherine participated in different MS fundraising events over the years, but both wanted to take their advocacy one step further. As a result, Mike and Catherine created the MS Great 8 Foundation (MSG8) a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to cycling while raising money and awareness for MS. The MSG8 participated in 150-mile races across the country for several years, eventually expanding to an annual 8-day tour that covered an average of more than 500 miles!
Unfortunately, in 2012, Mike, Catherine, and the rest of the MSG8 team had to put cycling on hold. Mike went through a series of brain surgeries, high-intensity chemotherapy, and radiation due to an illness. Catherine devoted herself to caring for her brother, Peter, whose MS had progressed considerably. Mike was able to make a full recovery from his illness in 2018. Sadly, Peter passed away due to complications of MS in 2018.
That same year, Team MSAA decided to take on a new challenge – cycling. After some conversations with MSAA’s President & CEO, Gina Ross Murdoch, Mike and Catherine decided to get back on two wheels and lead the charge with the Ride to Montauk, a beautiful scenic cycling race through Long Island. Mike and Catherine would recruit members of their old MSG8 team, but this time, they’d be fundraising for MSAA’s free programs and services as a part of Team MSAA!
“MSAA represents all of us living and breathing MS,” said Mike. “It is the embodiment of our community. It represents all of us.” Now, as the team prepares for their second race, they’re offering some advice to those who may be interested in joining the team. “Don’t be afraid, train appropriately, and don’t try to ‘keep up with the guy next to you’. Just do you, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. We’re all there to help!”
To learn more about participating in the Ride to Montauk or to support the MSG8 and other MSAA riders, please visit our Team MSAA website.