Monday, March 22, 2010

College goes great lengths for charities

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado PR Manager

This year, Rio Salado College launched Pay 30 Forward, a campaign that asked employees to volunteer at least 30 hours in their community. The campaign has been very successful as the employees have volunteered thousands of hours at hundreds of charities. Recently, a group who called themselves The Rio Way Heart Walk Team took part in the Phoenix Heart Walk and raised nearly $5,000 for the American Heart Association. In early March, 12 employees ran a combined 200 miles in the Ragnar Relay, which raised money for local charities.

Next weekend, Matt Freed, a graphic designer and adjunct faculty member at the Tempe-based college, is taking part in the Bike MS event in Florence, Arizona. During the event, Freed and a friend will trek 150 miles on their bikes to raise funds for the Arizona Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“I had a friend ride last year and he asked if I wanted to ride it with him this year,” said Freed, an avid bike rider, who often rides Phoenix’s South Mountain. “The thought of riding 150 miles was daunting; I have only done rides that were about 35 miles.”

According to Freed, this is not the type of event a person can take part in without preparation. Besides raising money before the event, he started training rigorously in January.

“The training consists of a core workout on Tuesday, an hour ride on Wednesday, which I do at 4:30 a.m., strength training on Thursdays, two to three hour rides on Saturday and three to four rides on Sunday,” said Freed. “It has been difficult to follow the training regiment. I missed two weeks with illness and a couple of work outs here and there, but I think I will be OK for the ride.”

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected by the disease.
If a riding partner and the training are not enough motivation for Freed, he has some another good reason to take on this challenge.

“A colleague at my last job had MS and I saw firsthand what the disease does to someone on a daily basis,” he said. “She was at work every day no matter what – she was an inspiration to me and was an excellent example of overcoming obstacles in life. I will be thinking of her at about mile 75 when the going gets tough.”
The local chapter of the National MS Society has been serving Arizona residents since 1956, and serves more than 8,000 Arizonans affected by MS.

If you would like to support Matt Freed by donating, please click HERE.

To learn more about the Arizona Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society or to donate, visit To learn more about the Rio Salado College, please visit