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Sun, March 29

Locals in battle for<br>multiple sclerosis cure

GC VILLAGE — The majority of Grand Canyon Village residents probably know Shirley Robinson. It’s not an uncommon sight to see her around town with beloved dog, Pugsley, trotting alongside.

Grand Canyon’s Dave Salazar will be cycling to help multiple sclerosis victims like local resident Shirley Robinson, seen above with dog Pugsley.

Husband Doug and son David are quite visible in the community as well with the elder Robinson working for Grand Canyon National Park Lodges and the younger man in the family involved with just about everything at school from the student council to the soccer team.

Sounds like the all-American family, right? Well, the Robinsons do fit the mold of a community-oriented family well-liked by their neighbors here at Grand Canyon.

But when Shirley Robinson is seen out and about in the village with Pugsley, she’s riding on an electric scooter. Unfortunately, she is one of more than 6,000 people in Arizona and southern Nevada who are battling multiple sclerosis.

It’s the story of nice folks like Shirley Robinson that has inspired longtime Grand Canyon resident Dave Salazar to ride his bicycle in an effort to find a cause and cure of MS, a chronic and often disabling disease of the central nervous system.

Salazar will be at the helm of his favorite bicycle for a 15th year on Nov. 3-4 for the 2001 SRP MS150 "Best Dam Bike Tour," the annual noncompetitive ride and fund-raising event that benefits MS research. Salazar and Robinson have teamed up for this annual cause over the past six years.

"As long as I can continue to do this, I’ll do it," said Salazar, who depends on pledges from local community members, organizations and businesses to do his part raising funds. "My wife gives me a lot of support. She encourages me every year ... she pushes me out the door."

Salazar and scores of other cyclists will pedal 156 miles from Phoenix through Estrella Mountain Park and over the Gillespie Dam to Gila Bend. This year’s tour differs from past years, which traditionally goes to Parker. Construction on State Route 60 forced the tour to make the change this year.

"Going to Gila Bend and back ... is not as challenging as Parker, it’s a lot more flat," said Salazar, a meat cutter at Canyon View Marketplace who tries to ride a bike to work to stay in shape. "There’s still plenty of time to pledge, up until the time of the race. Come on by the store."

The Robinson family appreciates cyclists like Salazar who take the time and effort to bring awareness to MS.

"Without Dave’s help, those kinds of scooters would not be available to people like Shirley," said Doug Robinson, referring to his wife’s mode of personal transportation.

"I really appreciate it, it’s a great thing ... it really is," Shirley Robinson added.

MS short-circuits the central nervous system of approximately 730 young adults every week, causing physical weakness, distorted vision, loss of balance and coordination, slurred speech and in the most severe cases, crippling and paralysis. The neurological disease affects an estimated 300,000 people in the United States alone.

Forty percent of all proceeds raised from the bike tour go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which allocates funds to research efforts.

Salazar thanked his wife for her role in his annual bike rides and also commended the contributions of Ann Wren of the Quality Inn, Verkamp’s, the Grand Canyon Rotary Club, the Grand Canyon Lions Club, Delaware North Parks Services and the Grand Canyon-Tusayan community.

Salazar will be participating in the ride with family again this year as son-in-law Tim Newman, a police officer from Glendale, will accompany him. After the Saturday trip to Gila Bend, cyclists stay overnight and return to Phoenix the next day.

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