LONDON, ONT. -- A former Western University student who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), biked 170 kilometres on Saturday to raise funds and awareness for the illness.

Mitchell Kuska, alongside his former professor, Chris DeGroot took part in the Virtual MS Bike ride on July 24.

Kuska and DeGroot started in Grand Bend and cycled all the way to London.

“I was diagnosed with MS in February 2019…there’s a lot more people that have this than you might think,” says Kuska.

The annual bike ride for the MS Society of Canada takes place over the course of two days but Kuska and DeGroot biked it all in one.

“Oh I just wanted to sit on the grass I was so exhausted,” says Kuska after crossing the finish line. "We felt accomplished. There were quite a few times we felt exhausted and we regained our energy then lost it again, but finally to get to that finish line, it was a good feeling."

According to the MS Society of Canada, “Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world, with an estimated 77,000 Canadians living with the disease. While it is most often diagnosed in young adults aged 20 to 49.”

DeGroot, who was Kuska’s former professor at Western, was originally going to donate to the cause online but decided later that he wanted to personally take part, so he tied up his shoes and rode alongside Kuska.

“Mitch is an inspirational individual. He was diagnosed with MS in the course of his Masters and he didn’t let it get in his way. He had a really positive attitude through the whole thing,” says DeGroot.

Kuska has raised $2,800 so far to be donated to the MS Society of Canada

Participants who were not able to take part in the annual bike ride in person due to COVID-19 restrictions, were encouraged to take part by cycling indoors.

The opening ceremonies and closing ceremonies took place online via Facebook and YouTube.

According to the MS Society website, funds go towards advancing treatment and care, enhancing well-being, preventing MS and halting disease progression, alongside others.