A Grove City woman will be hitting the road this summer to raise money and awareness for multiple sclerosis.
Mikayla Covington, 23, who was diagnosed with the disease in October 2017, will be participating in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s annual event, Bike MS.
“They’re all over the nation,” she said.
She will be joining the group in three locations: Williamsburg, Va., and the Ohio towns of Dublin and Brunswick.
Covington biked in the event in 2018 in Dublin and Brunswick, and she’s looking forward to meeting up with people who understand her experience with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disorder that affects the central nervous system.
Before her diagnosis, she had been dealing with anxiety and other symptoms. She also had trouble talking during a presentation she gave at a conference; Covington runs the education department for the Alpha Omega Center, which offers parenting and pregnancy services.
“It was hard to explain,” she said of her symptoms.
Doctors initially wondered if she had a brain tumor or liver problems. Further testing showed lesions on her spine and brain, which led to the multiple sclerosis diagnosis.
“It takes people decades to get diagnosed,” she said of some people with multiple sclerosis.
There is no known cause or cure, and it is more common in women. Covington has tried a few different medications, and she follows the society’s progress on researching the disease.
“And the symptoms vary from person to person,” she said.
She doesn’t currently take any medications. She has been focusing on diet changes and exercising, and she has found that she enjoys bicycling as a way to stay active.
“It’s been good for me,” she said.
Covington is collecting donations for Bike MS, and proceeds will benefit the society. She’ll be riding for one day in each of the three towns.
“The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has been a huge help,” she said.
She’s also supported by friends, family and co-workers, and has found that most people are understanding about her condition when she explains that she has good days and bad.
Covington sometimes tires easily and has some numbness in her hands, so it can be hard to plan ahead. The disease is progressive, but she doesn’t know how it will impact her in the years to come.
She is glad that doctors caught it early, and she discovered that she likes to knit, which she said is good therapy.
She is a doctoral student at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, where she is studying rhetoric.
Covington grew up in Hong Kong – her parents were missionaries – and she is a graduate of Geneva College in Beaver Falls.
She loves her job at the Alpha Omega Center, which has offices in Slippery Rock and New Castle. She visits local schools to talk to students about healthy relationships.
Covington has a cat named Cheeto, which she adopted from Grove City Area Pet Rescue. She also fosters cats and kittens for the rescue.
For more information about Bike MS or to donate to Covington’s campaign, visit www.nationalmssociety.org and click on “Donate,” then select “Support an Event Participant” and search for “Mikayla Covington.”