Blue hair shows she cares

Published 5:52 pm Saturday, March 7, 2015

Maggie Morris Fears loves the cause of finding a cure for diabetes so much, she streaked her hair blue to show it.

The Eastern Virginia Medical School diabetes researcher also enjoys bicycling, making the American Diabetes Association’s upcoming Tour de Cure the perfect event for her to support.

Maggie Morris Fears shows off the blue streaks in her hair that she put there when she met an initial fundraising goal for the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure.

Maggie Morris Fears shows off the blue streaks in her hair that she put there when she met an initial fundraising goal for the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure.

She told people if she raised at least $400 by World Diabetes Day in November, she would put blue streaks in her hair.

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“I actually made it to $471,” she said, remarking that the blue-colored hair was fun. “I liked it.”

The blue dye is gone, but the fervor remains. Morris Fears said she plans on riding the 100-mile distance during the fundraiser — the most popular choice, even though distances of 10, 25 and 65 miles also are offered.

The cold and snow have been hampering her training efforts, however.

“I’m doing a lot of spin classes,” she said. “It’s not going as well as I would like.”

Morris Fears also is the team captain for the Eastern Virginia Medical School team and is a part of the American Diabetes Association’s community leadership board.

“I think the board is a great group of people who are really dedicated to trying to fight diabetes and fight the incidence of diabetes that we have locally,” she said. “I think it’s great the ride is in Suffolk, where we really do have an issue with the prevalence of diabetes.”

She said she feels it’s important to support the American Diabetes Association because of the educational programs it runs. She particularly mentioned is Project Power program in Suffolk, which gets local church members involved in educating their fellow parishioners about how to prevent and manage the disease.

“It’s nice to be a part of that, to get outside of the research and see what I’m really working towards achieving in the lab,” she said. “We’re trying to end diabetes and find preventions and cures.”

Morris Fears said one of her current projects in the lab is trying to “characterize some of the early pathways in the development of diabetes” and develop “targeted inhibitors that are blocking some of those early pathways.” One such pathway is an inflammatory process that helps contribute to insulin resistance and is involved in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

“It could be beneficial to both groups of people, which would be really great,” she said.

In another study, she is looking at different protein markers that show up in the blood of both groups of diabetics, which could allow for earlier diagnosis.

The 2015 Hampton Roads Tour de Cure will take place on April 25 beginning and ending at King’s Fork High School. There is a $25 registration fee and a $200 fundraising minimum. The fundraising goal is $450,000, and so far about $104,000 has been raised.

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

For more information about the Tour de Cure, visit