Meet your teacher: English teacher completes summer charity ride across US, raising $5595 for MS

In this repeating features segment, the Winged Post profiles an upper school faculty member. This issue, English teacher Charles Shuttleworth discusses his cycling trip across America.

 After two months of biking through lush farmlands dotted with livestock and llamas, arid canyons dotted with wildlife and forested mountain ranges, upper school English teacher Charles Shuttleworth has finally returned from his transamerica bike trip, raising a total of $5,595 for multiple sclerosis (MS) charity.

Spanning 3,785 miles from Yorktown, Virginia, to San Francisco, the trip, one of many organized by Bike the US for MS, fundraises for MS research. According to the National Library of Medicine, MS is a chronic disease that targets the central nervous system and disrupts communication between the brain and the body. Symptoms vary from numbness to paralysis or loss of vision.

“The MS charity is an important one to me because a close member of my family has had MS for 30 years, and I know what she’s gone through,” Shuttleworth said. “There’s really been a lot of MS research over the years, and if the drugs they have now were available then, she might have had a very different life.”

The group ranged from recent college graduates to retirees, along with four ride leaders and a support team, which followed the bikers along the way and carried their supplies. Some of the riders were completely new to biking, whereas other riders, like Shuttleworth, had biked across the country before with other organizations such as the American Lung Association.

“Everyone in the group was of totally different age ranges, different experience levels, and we helped each other out,” rider Gabriella Giacona said. “We always go to Charles and [ask] ‘Oh, Charlie, what are we in store for today? Is it a hard day?’ I mean, we could look at the terrain, but we like to get his notes on it from previous rides.”

The riders stayed at various buildings and campsites along the way, ranging from a firehouse to areas designated for cross-country bikers.

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People who have MS [are] very limited, and so we were able to do some things for them. Nothing too big, but it was really appreciated, and we all came away with pretty good feelings about that. I think it’s really worthwhile doing charity work, and I think the important thing is to find community service work that suits you.”

— Charles Shuttleworth, English teacher and avid cyclist

“A typical day for me was getting up at 5:30, getting on the road by about 6, finding breakfast so that by about quarter of 7 I was riding,” Shuttleworth said. “My idea was to get the riding done because in the afternoon it gets hotter, the wind gets stronger and there is a chance of thunderstorms.”

Along the way, the group participated in various volunteer and community service activities, such as doing yard work for a woman diagnosed with MS.

“People who have MS [are] very physically limited, and so we were able to do some things for them that they weren’t able to do themselves,” Shuttleworth said. “We could clean the yard, and we were doing weeding and cleaning of outdoor patio furniture. Nothing too big, but it was really appreciated, and I think we all came away with pretty good feelings about that.”

According to their website, Bike the US for MS has raised a total of $420,596 this year between five different routes, with the TransAmerica trip raising $105,531. Mr. Shuttleworth himself has raised $5,595 through online donations contributed on his behalf. Some of the money goes to support the riders, and the rest goes to help fund MS research and families affected by MS.

“I think it’s really worthwhile doing charity work, doing community service work, and I think the important thing there is to find some community service work that suits you,” Shuttleworth said. “This was sort of perfect for me because I was doing something I love and at the same time it really was a positive contribution.”

Bike the US for MS has several upcoming rides in the United States, including the Pacific Coast route, which spans from Seattle to San Diego; the Southern Tier, which spans from San Diego to St. Augustine; the Northern Tier, which spans from Bar Harbor to Seattle; and potentially an Atlantic Coast route next year as well. Although Mr. Shuttleworth enjoyed the TransAmerica trip, he plans to spend more time with his family next summer instead.

For those who are interested in contributing to the cause, visit http://biketheusforms.org/cyclists/detail.asp?cid=1117 to donate on behalf of Mr. Shuttleworth. The donation pool is still open, and now that the ride is over, all proceeds will go directly to funding MS research.

This piece was originally published in the pages of The Winged Post on September 6, 2017.