Changing Lives One Bicycle at a Time

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Our lives changed .....not necessarily for the better, but changed forever back in March of 1981.  Our perfect little first born child,  at ten months old, was diagnosed with Type I, insulin-dependent diabetes.  A pretty rare thing back then, the youngest diabetic ever seen at our local hospital, a blow to our perfect world for sure. But as any of you who have diabetes know, there's nothing perfect about a world with diabetes. As of 2012 about 29.1 million people in America have diabetes.  Approximately 1.25 of them have Type I. About 8.1 million are undiagnosed, and there are about 1.4 million new cases each year.  Diabetes still remains the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.  Those numbers are staggering and I bet if you're reading this you either have Type I or Type II diabetes or know someone in your family or neighborhood who does.  Diabetes touches millions of lives every day, mostly in ways that are frustrating, emotional, challenging and at times depressing.  Today though diabetes touched thousands of lives in the most uplifting way thanks to the 1,500 riders, hundreds of volunteers and countless supporters and participants in the annual American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure.


They say it takes a village, but when it comes to an event like the Tour de Cure, it takes several villages and a whole lot of love, dedication, sweat and bicycles to pull off such a life-changing event. Our daughter, Laura Greenaway, went to work for the ADA last year as Development Director. Having grown up watching her sister live with diabetes, Laura knew first hand the importance of an organization like ADA.  Laura and her fellow ADA co-workers,  Nicole DeCelle, Market Executive Director and Amelia Ambrosino, Development Manager, a large team of dedicated volunteers (many of whom have been involved with the tour for many, many years) and countless corporations, who not only sponsor the tour but have teams of riders, work all year long putting details in place to make an event like the one today a success.  It takes only a few minutes in the presence of this huge family of supporters to feel the love and passion for ridding the world of diabetes.  In those few minutes, as a mom of a daughter with diabetes, a daughter of a mom with Type II diabetes and a long list of family members ahead of her....it moved me to tears watching the 50-mile riders take off this morning.  Seeing so many folks, many of whom have diabetes, so dedicated to raising money and riding for this cause is truly humbling.

We arrived at the Saratoga State Park (a new location this year) around 7:20, just in time to see the second set of riders take off.  The 100-mile riders had already headed out at 7:00 am.   Riding in the 100-mile route on the Kivort Team was TJ  Sherwin.  TJ is legally blind and hearing impaired.  TJ rode with a guide and it took him 9 hours to finish the 100 miles but holy cow!  What an accomplishment!
Volunteers began arriving at the park around 5:00 a.m.!  Fortunately this year the weather was in their favor and deservedly so since last year was pretty much a monsoon.  Today though the sky albeit cloudy held its moisture and the riders were able to make their way through the 100, 50, 30 and 10 mile routes dry and cool. Helping to make the event festival-like, this year's event included music by Body & Soul, a kid zone by B95.5, a food tent featuring lunch by Mazzone Hospitality, Ommegang Beer Garden and more.  It was a phenomenal day that brought people living with diabetes and people who care so much about them together to raise money to find a cure for diabetes and improve the lives of those living with it. Part way through the day, they had already raised over $700,000 towards their goal of $1.1 million dollars. It's not too late to donate!  You can still go to their website and give by following this link: https://donations.diabetes.org/site/Donation




When our daughter was diagnosed, talk was that a cure was five years away.  That was 36 years ago.  The cure has not been found, but in that 36 years, technology has improved so much.  Testing equipment is so much better today.  Insulin pumps have changed the lives of people with diabetes.  Continuous glucose monitors make it easier to monitor one's glucose levels.  So much progress has been made but a cure is still on the horizon.  We never knew what the future would hold for Katie.  The people we knew with diabetes had serious complications and we hoped and prayed that would not be Katie's future.  We worried about her having children.  Women we knew with diabetes had had several miscarriages and stillborn babies.  I feared Katie wouldn't be a mom.  Well, two weeks ago Katie delivered a healthy baby boy!  She worked diligently keeping her A1C's below 6.2 before and during pregnancy, saw a team of qualified professionals who watched her closely and thanks to progress made in the care of diabetics today, what seems like a miracle has taken place.  So much of where we are in handling diabetes today is thanks in part to the hard work and fundraising done by the American Diabetes Association.

Kaileigh and her guide dog



Today thousands raised funds and peddled to help in this cause.  Red riders (riders with diabetes), their family, friends and many who are just dedicated to this annual event came together with hope, camaraderie, and strength to join in making diabetes closer to being cured.  Witnessing such a group of individuals who are dedicated to a cause so near and dear to my heart will never feel ordinary.  I could never begin to express how grateful I am for everyone involved in this event. I hope you realize what a change you are making in the lives of everyone with diabetes!  I am including a few photos in this post, but have uploaded many more to my Facebook page.  Please hop on over to that and see if you can find yourself or anyone you know!
Love this girl - and her sign.  Both she and her mom have diabetes.

Laura Greenaway, Development Director


NYLR's escorted the riders today!


Wow...riding with two in tow!


And this smile.....this is what the tour is all about!!
To see the full album of photos from today's event, go to:  https://www.facebook.com/GAWelter/ 
And to donate, go to: https://donations.diabetes.org/site/Donation

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