Yesterday I went to the National Capital Area’s Tour de Cure right outside of Washington, DC. For the last two years, I have participated in the event, peddling out 20 miles each time and raising funds to support the American Diabetes Association’s mission. Thanks to the Red Rider program, I also got a snazzy jersey that declares “I Ride With Diabetes” on the back to bring attention to people with diabetes, as they inspire about 50,000 cyclists to participate in this event each year.
This year, I got to have a different point of view. Instead of riding in the event, I got to watch the events taking place at the start/finish line and talk to the people who came out to help Stop Diabetes®. I heard some amazing stories, met some truly dedicated people, and spotted bikes, broccoli and event beauty queens who had all come out to support the event. Here’s a quick recap of what I saw and the people I talked to.
Trevor Karlan (left) is one of the four Youth Ambassadors for the National Capital Area’s Tour de Cure this year. Like many 11-year-olds, Trevor is a sports fanatic. “At school and on his teams, his friends know that he has diabetes and they’re interested in it. With them, he gets to show how brave he is when he has to take an injection.” But when it comes to Tour de Cure? Trevor elects not to wear a Red Rider jersey that distinguishes him as someone living with diabetes. He prefers to be discreet and dress just like everyone else, setting out to bike 12 miles with his parents and little brother.
Mike Hamberger (right) used his unique last name to form team “Hamberger Time” for the second year in a row, but has yet to ride in the event. “Last year it was because I had hip surgery, this year I had shoulder surgery,” he said. That didn’t stop him from coming out to support his teammates and serving as a volunteer at the registration tables. His team, he said, is “small but mighty.” All together, the eight team members raised nearly $5,000 (and still counting) this year. “I think the Red Rider jerseys are awesome,” he commented, “because it’s the one day you can be like, ‘Hey, I have diabetes, yo.’” His friend Andrew chimed in “Yeah, as someone who doesn’t have diabetes, I’m kind of jealous of those jerseys.”
This was Gabriel Leadley’s (left) first time to ride in Tour de Cure and he crossed the finish line blowing kisses to the spectators cheering him on. “We had a great time out there,” he told me later. “We made a team of friends and people from my cycling class and just had a blast. It’s great to be out there to raise money to help find a cure and Stop Diabetes®. My grandfather recently passed away due to diabetes-related complications, so I just kept thinking about him the whole time we were riding. It was really nice to be able to do that for him.”
Tesch West, who was the Association’s National Youth Advocate in 2008 and is now an intern in the DC office came out to volunteer and offered her perspective of other Tour de Cure events. “Here there is a lot more focus on pre- and post-event stuff, so it’s more social. At the Tour de Cure in Utah, the participants are more hardcore cyclists, so they come, they ride (through miles and miles of farmland), and then they leave. Here at the National Capital Area event, people are hanging out and talking about diabetes. It makes me feel like part of a community.”
What’s that? Oh yes, I told you I’d spotted bikes, broccoli and beauty queens – there was all that and so much more!
Tour de Cure is an event that brings people together and celebrates the bravery it takes to live each day with diabetes. Have you participated in one of these events as a Red Riders or supporter? We’d love to know your thoughts on it, so leave a comment below!