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Glad to be Dog Tired

Most anyone would be tired after biking 150 miles. But it takes a team of veterinarians and their friends to be Dog Tired. For six years, the Dog Tired team has participated in the MS 150 Bike Tour, a charity ride that raises money for multiple s...

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Most anyone would be tired after biking 150 miles. But it takes a team of veterinarians and their friends to be Dog Tired.

For six years, the Dog Tired team has participated in the MS 150 Bike Tour, a charity ride that raises money for multiple sclerosis education and research. It formed almost by accident, though.

Carol Kurtyka of Moorhead is a veterinarian at Southgate Veterinary Hospital in Fargo. She had wanted to sign up for the MS 150 Bike Tour for several years; she is physically active, viewed the ride as a personal challenge, and had a former employee with multiple sclerosis. The day she signed up, she saw Maggie Jorgenson, who was signing up her husband. Roger Jorgenson, a veterinarian at Valley Veterinary Hospital, had injured his knee and was told to ride bike to rehabilitate it.

Connie Goss, a receptionist at Southgate, and her husband, Richard, already had participated in the MS bike tour for two years. They had started riding after they quit smoking.

"We had gained so much weight we had to do something," he jokes.

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The group, none knowing the others were riding before they joined, then decided to form a team.

"We just clicked. We were all going to be riding so we thought we might as well have a Valley Vet/Southgate Vet team," says Roger Jorgenson, captain of the team.

They held a contest for a name and Dog Tired was born.

"We enjoyed the challenge and we really were impressed by how well the MS Society took care of us," Kurtyka says.

Since then, the Dog Tired team has grown, usually with seven to 12 members. One year, 22 people were on the team. Dog Tired received the award for most money raised three years in a row, raising between $3,000 and $5,000 annually. Kurtyka says her personal goal is $2,002 in 2002.

"We have some really great motivated people out there knocking on doors and doing whatever they have to do," Kurtya says. "This time of year I'm talking to everyone about this ride."

The group wears Dog Tired T-shirts, and riders who have been with the team for three years receive a yellow jersey, reminiscent of the Maillot Jaune given to the Tour de France winner.

Normand Begnoche, Fargo, wore his jersey on one of the team's weekly training sessions. It's appropriate, as he is called the team's Lance Armstrong.

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"Basically he rides loops around the rest of us," Richard Goss says.

Begnoche has been on the team for four years, joining just after he moved to Fargo. He had taken his dog to Southgate and saw commemorative plaques and pictures of the bike tour on the wall. He had participated in other MS 150s in New England.

"I asked if I could start training with them and they invited me to ride with them," Begnoche says.

Begnoche, a neuropsychologist at Prairie at St. John's in Fargo, works with MS patients.

"Knowing that the ride I'm doing and the money I'm raising is helping the people I'm facing in my work ... that's rewarding for me," he says. "Being able to look them in their eye and know I'm helping them more than in my clinical work."

The ride raises money for national research and local programs and services. Forty percent of funds raised goes to the national level, and 60 percent stays here.

Aliceyn Tople, event coordinator for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Dakota Chapter, says it is encouraging to see a group participate that has no direct connection to MS. None of the riders have MS or have family members diagnosed with the disease.

"But they have such excitement and such passion for raising money and being involved," she says.

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The team members say they have met many people diagnosed with MS through the tour, which makes it a more personal experience. And Kurtyka says the fund raising has helped make possible advances in the treatment of MS, such as new medications.

"It's so rewarding to be able to help the people afflicted by this horrible disease," she says.

And besides helping the cause, the team has fun.

"They enjoy being out there, they enjoy fund raising, they enjoy the cause," Tople says. "It's kind of contagious, the more excited they are out there the more excited people become."

Roger Jorgenson says the inspiration comes from the people with MS fighting the disease.

"When some of these people are struggling so hard to get up and move around, I guess it makes our minor aches and pains after 150 miles seem insignificant," he says.

If you go

What: MS 150 Bike Tour

When: Begins 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. A registration banquet will be 4:30-8 p.m. Friday at Coach's Sports Pub, Moorhead. An Outback Steakhouse barbecue will be 2-5 p.m. Sunday at the finish line.

Where: The route starts at the Bison Sports Arena and continues on a figure-eight route through the area. On the first day, it passes through Harwood, Arthur and Mapleton. On the second, it heads through Kindred, Comstock, Sabin and Moorhead.

How to get involved: Riders pay a $30 registration fee and must raise an additional $200 minimum within six weeks after the race. Interested riders, donors and volunteers can call (701) 235-2678 or (800) 344-4867.

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