The Berlin-based Boy Scouts have become a staple component in the annual South Jersey fundraiser for multiple sclerosis.
As riders weave their way toward the waves in this year’s Bike MS: City to Shore, they may come across an oasis of Gatorade and protein bars.
Troop 48 Boy Scouts are reprising their services at the Century Loop rest stop in Mullica Township on Saturday, Sept. 23, which is the only break along the 20-mile detour, designed for bikers attempting the 100-mile route, the longest of the four projected paths.
The Berlin-based troop has been working the bike ride rest stops for nearly 15 years, continually welcomed back by this fundraiser for multiple sclerosis research.
“The riders are always happy to get the their service,” said Paul Pascu, the treasurer of Troop 48. “They’re always appreciative of the Scouts that come out.”
This year, 13 Boy Scouts, including one rider, are signed up for the event.
At the rest stop, they will manage an assortment of duties, including first aid, bike repairs and serving refreshments. From setting up at dawn to breaking down mid-afternoon, the Troop constantly replenishes supplies and adapts according to the status of the ride.
While the Troop is performing good deeds for the MS ride, the event, in turn, is fostering the Scouts’ independence, an objective that aligns with the youth organization’s missions.
“Boy Scouting is based on character development and self-reliance,” Pascu said. “There’s huge difference for the Scouts in running a stop versus helping. Their independence and level of own authority — that’s hugely rewarding for them and probably one of the best service projects.”
This project is especially fulfilling for the Scouts because the charity reaches beyond merely seeking donations. The Troop has had families and friends affected by MS, which ties the experience closer to home.
“Since we have connections to it, since it’s something we can physically do, as opposed to simply passing around the plate asking for donations,” Pascu said. “It’s a much more tangible, involved aspect for the Scouts and certainly for the riders, because they’re physically doing something.”
Two of the 7,000 bikers braving the ride are representing Troop 48. One is Magnus Pascu, Paul’s 16-year-old son. The other is Mike McCormick, the troop’s Scoutmaster, who is tackling the ride for the fifth time this year. McCormick retired from his rest stop services to supervise Scouts who were biking.
Contributors can donate money online through both bikers individually or to Troop 48 as a whole. All funds will go to the National Multiple Sclerosis research.
“MS is nice, because we’re seeing the progress in the research,” McCormick said “They’ve made breakthroughs in the years we’ve been doing this.”
The Scouts will not only occupy Mullica Township, but will represent Troop 48 at the ride’s final destination.
When riders reach the final leg of the ride, mounting the bridge that leads to Ocean City, they are not only greeted but saluted by blocks of people, including MS patients.
Despite the intimidating lengths, cruising into the seaside town is worthwhile on a few levels.
“The best part of the ride is when you hit Ocean City,” McCormick said. “Suddenly, the past 80 miles don’t seem as nearly as bad when you’re doing them.”
25 miles starts at Mays Landing
45 miles starts at Hammonton
80 and 100 miles starts at Cherry Hill