Trail bosses, wranglers and drag riders are gearing up for this year’s 12th annual Cowboy Capital Multiple Sclerosis Trail Ride.

This year’s event will take place Saturday, May 3 at Tarleton State University’s Hunewell Ranch. The ranch is located five miles east of Stephenville on FM 205. From US Hwy. 377 turn east onto FM 205, go 5.2 miles and turn right onto CR 182. The ranch will be the first gate on the left.

According to Mary Howard, co-chairwoman of the 2008 Cowboy Capital MS Trail Ride, the ride is not only a chance for riders to enjoy spring time in the scenic Cross Timbers, but also a chance to earn prizes.

“Every rider who turns in $50 or more in pledge funds, on the day of trail ride, receives the official ‘Cowboy Capital MS Trail Ride’ T-shirt,” said Howard. “Many nice prizes and awards will be presented during the lunch for categories like Top Fund Raiser, The Rider Who Traveled Farthest, Best Team Name and Most Spirited Team.”

Riders can participate individually or form a team, Howard said.

“You might be surprised who you’ll be riding with,” she said. “You can meet some great folks from all over Texas who come to join in the Cowboy Capital MS Trail Ride in Stephenville.”

Riders can designate a “Saddlemate” - a friend who has MS - and ride in honor of him or her.

Holden said safety is a serious concern, so experience trail bosses, wranglers and drag riders are provided by members of the Erath County Sheriff’s Posse, and supported by radio-contact provided by Erath County Sheriff’s Department.

“Folks with Multiple Sclerosis will appreciate you for raising the funding needed for research to find the cause and cure for this unpredictable, neurological disease,” Howard said. “You can play a part - the funding supports research and provides education and support programs for individuals with MS and their families living in our community.”

Multiple sclerosis is a disabling disease of the central nervous system with symptoms, which may come and go suddenly without warning. Symptoms range from the most severe forms - paralysis and loss of vision - to milder symptoms, including numbness and tremors or burning sensations in the arms and legs. It is a disease that strikes during the prime of life. Most people who suffer from MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40.

According to Howard, research indicates a cure could be found within the next 10 years. “We want to keep those scientist in the lab working toward a cure. There is no cure for MS - yet.”

Research indicates citizens of the U.S. have a one in 1,000 chance of developing MS, but close relatives of people with MS have a one in 100 to one in 50 chance of developing the disease. Scientists are searching for DNA markers to help determine how great a part genetics plays in a person’s susceptibility to MS.

The disease is most common among Caucasians and is twice as common in women than in men.

Howard says researchers in the U.S. are diagnosing MS more frequently in states that are above the 37th parallel than in states below it, contributing to the opinion MS may have ties to certain environmental exposures, which happen early in life. These experiences, according the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, may trigger the disease in people who have genetic susceptibility to develop the disease.

Most researchers now believe MS involves an abnormal response directed against the central nervous system. This disease targets and deteriorates myelin, the covering that surrounds and protects nerve fibers.

Registration for trail riders begins at 8 a.m., followed by a breakfast provided by FMC Technologies. After the meal, the fun begins as folks saddle up and take off at 9 a.m. for the MS Trail Ride.

Papers are required showing a negative Coggins Test on all horses. Those wanting to participate must bring proof of the test to the registration table.

The day’s events also include a mid-morning rest stop sponsored by Saint-Gobain Abrasives at approximately 10 a.m., a barbecue lunch provided by the Knights of Pythias, and an afternoon rest stop sponsored by Caporal Industries. A silent auction will be held following the trail ride.

This is a fun family affair with riders ranging in age from three years to 82 years of age.

Last year, an estimated 115 riders participated, raising more than $25,000. Proceeds will be used for research and services provided to MS patients in the Cross Timbers area.

For more information or to register for the event, contact Mary Howard at 445-2001 or Debbie Cole at 918-5482.

Trail ride information and registration forms are also available at Completed forms can be faxed to 968-6299 or mailed to: Cowboy Capital MS Trail Ride, PO Box 227, Stephenville, TX 76401.

In conjunction with the trail ride, the local Knights of Columbus - Council 10816 will be hosting a 5K Trailrun, which will begin at 10 a.m.

Proceeds from the 5K Trailrun will be donated to the MS Society. Those who participate in the fun run-walk and donate $25 will receive a T-shirt and goody bag.

This year’s route will take participants along a two-mile course through beautiful countryside with scenic paths meandering up and down Hunewell Ranch.

For more information about the fun run-walk, contact Dan Delgado at 965-6567 or 592-3807.