March 15, 2013, was a special date for me. That Friday, just about a month ago, marked three years since I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
I was only 16 at the time (it was actually the week of my high school’s annual spring musical!) but my family, friends and coworkers really jumped in to learn everything they could about diabetes and offer amazing support, which continues to this day. Diabetes has definitely changed my life, but the good news is that I am managing well. I’m now a happy, independent 20-year-old college student.
One of my friends, Dana Grant, is a big cyclist. It was she who had the idea that we should ride to Stop Diabetes® in the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure. I consider myself to be a recreational rider at best, but Dana convinced me that the Tour de Cure is a ride, not a race.
So on Sunday, May 26, I will be travelling to Chicago, about 40 miles from my hometown of Plainfield, Ill., to ride in the MB Financial Bank Bike the Drive. Together with our dads, Dana and I have formed a team called the RED CUREsaders! The 30-mile route will take us along Chicago’s scenic Lake Shore Drive. Here’s hoping for some great weather to go along with those beautiful views of Lake Michigan!
We’re following the official training guide, and so far so good! I have adjusted to the additional exercise by simply being prepared with healthy snacks and a sports drink in case I go low during a practice ride.
On my diabetes anniversary, March 15, I put out a little YouTube video explaining why I’m riding this year. The RED CUREsaders soon exceeded our $750 team fundraising goal and raised it to $1000 (thank so much to everyone who donated!). It’s difficult to even place a value on our goal or on individual donations, because I know each dollar brings us closer to stopping diabetes.
I may be my friends’ and family’s connection to Tour de Cure, but this ride is not just for me, it’s for all people affected by diabetes. I want to increase general awareness and understanding of this disease through education and support. I was the first person in my family to be diagnosed with diabetes, and wow, there is just so much to learn.
So wish me luck on May 26! Donning my Red Rider jersey, I’ll be riding alongside Dana and our fathers. And my mom and brother will be there to cheer us on at the finish line. I hope to tweet and post Facebook updates along the way (safely, I promise!). I’ll ride knowing that, whether in person or virtually, all the people who care about me are right there behind me, giving the same outstanding support I have known for three years and counting.
Watch the homemade video that started it all!
Ready to ride to Stop Diabetes like Nick? Find a Tour de Cure event near you and sign up!