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.
When I cycled in my first Tour de Cure five years ago, I had no idea that it would become one of my biggest passions and an event I look forward to every year.
My name is Cristie Field. I am 35 years old and currently live in Chicago. My husband and I began participating in the Chicagoland Tour de Cure five years after I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
The diagnosis came as a huge surprise and completely changed my life—I was only 25 and had recently graduated college. I always lived a reasonably healthy lifestyle and was a ballet dancer for many years. However, the summer after college, my weight fluctuated and I felt constantly exhausted. I just did not feel like myself.
It was Bell’s palsy that finally landed me in the hospital in August of that year—but the doctor seemed more concerned about something else. I vividly remember him asking if diabetes ran in my family, and me telling him to calm down when he mentioned my blood glucose was high. After all, I had just consumed a small Frappuccino® and part of a Rice Krispies® treat. Little did I know that my blood glucose was nearly 600mg/dL and my A1c was 12.6. Needless to say, I had diabetes.
From that moment on, I was forced to constantly count carbohydrates, poke myself with needles and worry about potential complications. I was terrified. However, I channeled those feelings into an effort to get as healthy as I could–and I did! The support I received from my family and friends is more than I could ever ask for. They are patient when I’m “hangry” and always make sure there is something for me to eat in case my blood glucose goes low. More notably, they have supported my small, but mighty, Tour de Cure team, the A1Cyclists, for the past four years.
My initial Tour de Cure left me feeling nothing short of inspired. I became committed to raising funds for research and children’s camps, as well as advocating for all of us in the diabetes community. Each year, my family and friends raise at least $3,000, and my mother and I are proud to be Champion Tour de Cure fundraisers. Not only do I ride for those living with diabetes, but I also ride for my family members and friends who are affected by it daily.
At the Tour this past June, my appreciation for my support system amplified. I was unable to ride because I was 17 weeks pregnant at the time, so I spent the day volunteering in the American Diabetes Association’s Red Rider tent. I cheered on cyclists and provided them with snacks, cooling wraps and all the moral support they could need. I also participated on the local Red Rider Planning Committee this year, raising awareness and helping newly diagnosed individuals. This role enabled me to give back to an organization that gives so much hope and support to those with diabetes.
Being pregnant with diabetes is no easy feat. In fact, the disease held me back from becoming a mother for years. However, with the amazing support of my family and friends, my OB-GYN and my maternal- fetal medicine team, I know I am in good hands and a healthy pregnancy is possible. I closely monitor my blood glucose, visit the doctor every other week and do not give in to late-night ice cream cravings. It is definitely a challenge, but I know that my health—and my growing baby boy’s health—is well worth it.
In 2017, I look forward to rejoining fellow Red Riders on the cycling trail, as well as continuing my involvement on the Red Rider Planning Committee. And I cannot wait to bring my son (due in November) to his first Tour de Cure next year!
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.