This year marks the 25th anniversary of two American Diabetes Association® signature fundraising events—Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes® and Tour de Cure®.
Every dollar raised at these events supports people living with diabetes and funds our life-changing research and programs.
The “25 Legends” blog series highlights personal stories from some of the Association’s most dedicated walkers and riders who are affected by the disease.
You may find it surprising, then, that I have been the No. 1 fundraiser for the Northern Virginia Tour de Cure for the past three years, riding the 36-mile route each time. I have participated in this event 11 times—raising a total of over $100,000 with the hope that we will soon find a cure for diabetes.
My daughter Claire has had type 1 diabetes since the age of 3, and she is the reason I ride. A couple of weeks ago, Claire posted the following personal experience with insulin shock, or severe hypoglycemia, on Facebook—and it made me even more determined to find a cure:
“You wouldn’t know by looking.… You wouldn’t know I almost lost my life last night to insulin shock. You wouldn’t know that both cheeks are swollen from being bit. You wouldn’t know that I fell out of bed while convulsing. You wouldn’t know my entire body is bruised from the seizures. You wouldn’t know that I’m too weak to do everyday tasks. You wouldn’t know that I’m terrified to go to sleep every night because I’m afraid my blood sugar will go too low and I won’t wake up. You wouldn’t know by looking, but I have type 1 diabetes, and I fight this battle every hour of every day. My family and close friends are fighting this battle with me. And just like other people fighting their own battles—just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean we aren’t fighting tooth and nail.”
From the day Claire was diagnosed 30 years ago until the day she went to college, I slept with a baby monitor in her room in fear of overnight hypoglycemia. If Claire went into shock overnight—which happened frequently—I woke up from the sound of her odd breathing pattern. Now she is 33 and lives on her own, and a baby monitor does not reach the 20 miles between her house and mine. But I still don’t sleep.
When she called me to tell me about going into insulin shock again, I cried because I was unable to prevent it. Thankfully, by some miracle, she came out of the seizures long enough to call her friend who has a key to her house in case of emergencies like this. He could not fully understand her words, but he recognized she was having a hypoglycemic episode and gave her juice and a granola bar*. I am very grateful to Claire’s friend for his quick thinking—and I let him know that if it ever happens again, he should feel free to call 911, then me!
Diabetes is relentless. I often wonder how different my life would be if I had not gotten involved with the American Diabetes Association 11 years ago. One of my coworkers sent a company-wide email to announce that she started a Tour de Cure team. Since I’m not an avid cyclist, I almost deleted the message. For some reason, however, I decided to read the rest of the email and learned that the goal of Tour de Cure was to raise money to support people with diabetes.
When Claire was 3 years old, I told her that I would do whatever it takes to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes. I realized that even though I had not cycled in 20 years, I had to sign up and begin a training program.
I started by cycling just one mile and eventually worked my way up to 36—the length of my Tour de Cure route. Training was not easy, but finding the motivation to continue was: Whenever I started to struggle and felt like I could not pedal anymore, I thought about Claire, and the millions of others who wish they could quit their struggle against diabetes. I know that they can’t stop; they have to keep fighting even when they do not want to anymore. That always gives me the strength and courage to keep on pedaling.
After I’d been cycling in Tour de Cure for a few years, Claire said, “Mom, next year, I’m going to ride with you!” I am proud to say that this year, Claire is the top Red Rider fundraiser—that is, a participant who lives with diabetes—and our team, Team Moxie, is the top Family and Friends team in our area.
I will keep cycling, keep working hard and keep fighting for Claire until there is a cure!
Together, we CAN Stop Diabetes.
The Association is so grateful for our 25 Legends! Their tireless efforts as walkers and riders are a tremendous support and inspiration to people with diabetes.
*Note: It is not medically recommended to feed people who are unresponsive, seizing or not fully conscious. The American Diabetes Association recommends dialing 911 or their health care provider, administering glucagon and rolling the patients onto their side.