Tour de Cure a success

Published 8:40 pm Monday, April 28, 2014

Cyclists from Hampton Roads and northeast North Carolina could hardly have had a better day to spend biking around Suffolk than they experienced on Saturday.

With temperatures in the 70s and blue skies all spreading out around them, about 920 riders took advantage of a perfect spring day to help raise nearly $430,000 for the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure. In its third year in Suffolk, the event continues to grow, with nearly 50 more riders participating this year than last, and about $40,000 more in funds raised, according to Deanie Eldridge, executive director of the association’s Hampton Roads chapter.

Madelynn Sershen of Elizabeth City organized Maddy’s Musketeers to ride in the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure on Saturday in Suffolk. Riders in red shirts like Madelynn’s were part of the ADA’s Red Riders team, which was composed of people who suffer from some form of diabetes and their supporters.

Madelynn Sershen of Elizabeth City organized Maddy’s Musketeers to ride in the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure on Saturday in Suffolk. Riders in red shirts like Madelynn’s were part of the ADA’s Red Riders team, which was composed of people who suffer from some form of diabetes and their supporters.

“We are just so grateful to all of our participants, our volunteers and our sponsors,” she said. “Because of their efforts for the Tour … we are raising much-needed funds” in the fight against diabetes.

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Participants in Saturday’s fundraising event, which was based at King’s Fork High School, rode on 10-, 30-, 65- or 100-mile marked courses that had been laid out along the back roads of Suffolk and Isle of Wight County.

Nearly everyone who rode did so in memory or in honor of a friend or relative who has the disease or who had died from its complications.

John Ghiloni, a nine-year veteran of the Tour from Norfolk, rode the 65-mile course in memory of a friend who died from diabetes complications when he was in his 40s. He wore a riding jersey advertising Raytheon, which had put together a team to take part in the event in a previous year, but had not done so this year.

Ghiloni decided to ride at the beginning of the month and quickly raised $700.

Carrie Hansen, who works for pharmaceuticals manufacturer and distributor Eli Lilly & Co., said she was “riding for the cause” as she prepared for “just a leisurely” 10-mile circuit.

Some companies and other organizations — like the Dixon Hughes Goodman CPA office in Norfolk — sponsored entire teams that headed out to ride together. As the clock neared noon, six people from that organization limbered up and socialized prior to the start of the 10-mile ride, the last one to leave of the day, and the one that had the most families and young children involved.

Summer McOrmond, 8, waited patiently near the start line as the noon riders queued prior to the playing of the National Anthem. She was riding a purple girls’ bicycle with a basket. Her father, Will, sat beside her on a LeMond Racing Bike that was neither purple nor adorned with a frilly basket.

As the race started, dozens of riders crossed through the inflatable arch serving as a start line, and cheers erupted from volunteers and other bystanders nearby.

Freedom Duggan and Ian Cantrell were among the crowd lending its support to the riders. Both are stationed at NAS Oceana and were on hand for the day, they said, “just supporting someone we know in the race.”

They watched as the 10-milers left the starting gate and the 100-milers began trickling back across the finish line after more than five hours on the course and listened as the band struck up a set to celebrate the personal and collective accomplishments of the day.