Thousands of cyclists take to the roads of Texas, US, this month for a two-day fundraising bike ride in aid of the National MS Society. More than 500 riders are BP staff, including first-timer Philip Luongo who explains to BP Magazine why this challenge is so personal
“For almost my entire life I have seen first-hand the terrible impact of multiple sclerosis (MS) – my father and several other relatives have been battling the disease. Now, I have found a way for me to help them and thousands of others with MS. As part of Team BP, I am making my first ride in the BP MS 150. It was thrilling when I realized there was something I could do to help. My first goal is to motivate others to donate or participate in this ride which raises money to fight a disease affecting more than 400,000 people in the United States. I was a child when my father learned he had MS. Since then, an uncle, aunt and half-sister have been diagnosed. My great aunt and her daughter also have it. My father was 21-years-old when he was diagnosed and the disease progressed quickly in a few short years. It has ravaged him and he can no longer walk or talk and requires care 24 hours a day. But, I believe research supported by the BP MS 150 has paid off and has much promise for the future. For example, my uncle recently underwent a stem cell procedure that is a brand new option for MS patients. Advancements have been made, so there is proof money helps. I believe there will be a cure for MS one day.
"For almost my entire life I have seen first-hand the terrible impact of multiple sclerosis – my father and several other relatives have been battling the disease."
- Philip Luongo
Determined to ride
I first came to Houston from my home in Bethpage, New York, in April 2014. My dream job was to work for BP and I was just a few days too late to take part in last year’s ride. But, after missing my first chance at the BP MS 150, I was determined to ride this year. I started exercising and eating right and, of course, I bought a bicycle. When I told them at the bike store I was riding in the BP MS 150, they knew exactly what I was talking about. It is amazing that so many people know about this event. I have been very impressed by the fundraising support I have received from friends, relatives and even strangers. After promoting on Facebook, people are coming up and saying they are glad I am doing this because they have someone in their family with MS. I set a goal of raising $2,000, and when I reached that, I upped it to $5,000, then I went to $8,000, and now it is $10,000.
Time off from offshore
I am a ballast control operator on the Na Kika platform in the Gulf of Mexico and work two weeks on, and two weeks off. But when I checked my calendar, I learned the ride would occur when I was scheduled to be offshore. I arranged to get time off for the ride, and the understanding shown by my manager demonstrates BP’s support for the event. The fact that BP sponsors this every year, I believe, shows a lot about what this company stands for. My family is really happy and proud about this because we are all affected by it and I want to take part in the BP MS 150 for many years to come. Given my story and my determination to make a difference, I want to have a more active role in the future and I think this ride is just the beginning.”