Spencer rides for family

Published 8:24 pm Saturday, February 21, 2015

Rick Spencer wears many hats when he rides in the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure.

As a member of the organization’s leadership advisory board, he’s expected to participate in the event in some form, Spencer said. But he goes above and beyond by both riding and volunteering.

Rick Spencer shows off his bicycle before a training ride for the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure.

Rick Spencer shows off his bicycle before a training ride for the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure.

A program resource officer for the Obici Healthcare Foundation, Spencer realizes the importance of fighting diabetes in Suffolk and Western Tidewater.

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“The Obici Healthcare Foundation has diabetes as one of its main targets,” he said. “Western Tidewater has the highest death rate from diabetes in the state. We’re making strides to reduce that trajectory.”

Spencer said he also has family members who have diabetes or pre-diabetes, and he wants to help raise money to support them.

The 2015 Hampton Roads Tour de Cure will take place on April 25 beginning and ending at King’s Fork High School. Cyclists can choose 10, 25, 65 or 100-mile routes. There is a $25 registration fee and a $200 fundraising minimum. The fundraising goal is $450,000, and so far about $77,000 has been raised.

Money raised is used for diabetes education, awareness, research and advocacy.

Spencer rides in the 10-mile ride.

“For me to do a 10-mile ride, it involves some training in advance,” he said. “So that I don’t get to the halfway point and need someone to drive me back.”

Before, during and after the ride, Spencer also takes photos for use in publicity for the ride.

“I can take pictures while people are mingling at the beginning, along the route and at the rest stop,” he said.

Spencer said the organization’s programs have been important to people in Suffolk. One such program, Project Power, which receives a grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation, recruits ambassadors in local churches to train their fellow parishioners how to prevent or manage diabetes.

“They encourage members of their congregation to be healthy,” Spencer said. “When I was living in Ohio, the pastor would say, ‘You can’t do God’s work if you’re sick.’ The main purpose of being a Christian is for kingdom building.”

He added that the organization’s free diabetes screenings, and the support that comes after it for people who are diabetic or pre-diabetic, also are important.

“It’s important people are aware, and after their awareness they are then connected to services, and then work toward getting short- and long-term change,” he said.

For more information, visit www.diabetes.org/hamptonroadsvatour.