Cyclists ride for diabetesPublished 10:45pm Saturday, April 20, 2013
Cyclists from across Virginia and beyond hit the road Saturday for the Tour de Cure, a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association.
On a wet morning, more than 950 participants in the 19th annual tour gathered at King’s Fork High School for one of four options: 100 miles, 65 miles, 30 miles or 10 miles.
Many of them, like Kathy Spencer of Virginia Beach, had a personal reason for taking part.
“This is my third time,” Spencer said. “My grandmother and my uncle both died from complications from diabetes, and a really good friend has diabetes.”
About one in 10 event participants, called “Red Riders,” suffer themselves from diabetes, a disease that is widespread in Western Tidewater, American Diabetes Association staff member Shelby Frank said.
“They get a special commemorative jersey for coming out,” she said. “They are why we are putting this event on. We are out here to celebrate the courage and strength of Red Riders.”
Hampton’s Mark Vam Raaam, a Red Rider who lives with Type 2 diabetes, said he has ridden in four or five tours.
“This is my main fundraising ride,” he said. “I’ve got my glucose test kit with me; I test before one mile.”
Despite the sea of fluorescent Lycra at the high school Saturday, the event didn’t quite meet its target of 1,100 riders. It is also yet to meet its $448,000 fundraising goal, according to event coordinator Amie Holman.
But donations are collected throughout the year, she said, and “we’ll definitely get there by the end of the year.”
“It’s pretty massive,” Holman said of staging the event, “particularly when Mother Nature plays a role — it can really throw us for a loop.”
But riders seemed undeterred by the wet conditions. Rain or no rain, they were happy for opportunity to raise money for — and awareness of — a worthy cause.
Cyclist Steve Hoard, a dentist from Newport, N.C., said he sees the side effects of diabetes every day.
“It’s a huge problem for the health of patients overall,” he said. “People losing limbs and going blind. It’s a major issue, and this is my small way of helping out.”
Holman thanked the more than 300 volunteers who worked to make the event a success. “We rely heavily on our volunteers to execute the event,” she said. “There’s only so much a staff of six can do.”