Dan Nuckols '09 of Roanoke has set out across the country on one of the most significant journeys he has ever made. It's important to him and even more so to thousands of people he has never met.
Nuckols is a bicyclist in the 2012 Bike the US for MS fundraising tour. He is riding in the Northern Tier group, which departed Monday, May 28, from Bar Harbor, Maine, and is set to arrive in Seattle Aug. 4. The route, 4,295 miles long, is one of three Bike the US for MS fundraisers this summer. To date, the group has raised collected more than $178,000.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the nerves of the brain and spinal cord degenerate. Symptoms include weakness of the limbs, muscle spasms, fatigue, numbness and prickling pain.
Bike the US for MS "organizes cross-country bike trips that raise awareness for multiple sclerosis research. Tours follow America's most traveled cross-country routes and combine an important cause with an incredible experience," according to the organization's website.
Nuckols, a travel nurse with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, set his personal fundraising goal at $7,000 for research initiatives and for treatment of patients at the James Q. Miller Center for Multiple Sclerosis in Charlottesville. Other treatment locations that will benefit from the fundraising event are the Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center in Seattle and the Fairview Multiple Sclerosis Achievement Center in St. Paul, Minn.
A graduate of RU's School of Nursing, Nuckols said he chose Radford's program based on its reputation and location. "I was very impressed with the nursing program's educational staff. The variety of clinicals also gives students broad exposure to the dynamic and multifaceted aspects of nursing," Nuckols said. He cited nursing faculty members Tony Ramsey, Virginia Burggraf and Leonita Cutright as his mentors.
Ramsey holds Nuckols in high regard. "Dan was one of the best students I ever taught. He approaches every person he meets with a warm and inviting smile that immediately puts anyone at ease. He is extremely smart, easily applies theory to practice but maintains a patient-centered, caring approach to nursing," Ramsey said. "He is humble and truly approaches his work with the intention of assisting patients to optimal health with no expectation of recognition for his work. He is most definitely a role model for many nurses to follow."
Nuckols went into travel nursing so he would have time for his personal interests, including the MS fundraising tours. "Being a travel nurse allows you to choose when you want to work and enjoy your free time by having much longer vacations," he said.
Last year, Nuckols rode across country for MS with 16 others whom he came to consider as family. "I rode for a family friend who suffers from MS. This year I will ride for all people who suffer. I've met many courageous people along the way," Nuckols said. "Seeing their daily struggles adds fuel for our legs and the cause."
Information on how to support the ride is on Nuckols' profile page on the Bike the US for MS website.