Gabriel rides for her mom

Published 6:02 pm Saturday, February 11, 2017

For many people, the American Diabetes Association’s annual Tour de Cure fundraiser is a fun day of riding their bike and raising money to find a cure for diabetes.

But for Helen Gabriel, it’s also a way to honor and remember her mother.

“Diabetes took her life in 2005,” Gabriel said. “She ended up being a double amputee behind this disease.”

Email newsletter signup

Her mother was on regular dialysis, because her diabetes had caused kidney failure.

“It did extend her life, but then she became terminally ill in 2003,” Gabriel said. “Diabetes, to me, is the trunk of the tree that starts all the other issues that you start to have health-wise.”

For Gabriel, the fight against diabetes is personal.

“I sort of semi-promised her we were going to find a cure for this thing,” she said. “The goal now is to keep riding and try to raise as much money as we can to try to see if we can get a cure for this.”

Gabriel has been a cyclist ever since she can remember.

“It just so happens, I happen to love biking,” she said.

She also loves the Tour de Cure, because she doesn’t question where the money is going.

“The blessing is that all of the monies we raise for this Tour de Cure stay right here local,” she said.

Gabriel’s goal for this year’s ride is to raise $4,500.

“I’m reaching out, and I’m going to put the pressure on myself to try to raise between $4,500 and $5,000 this year, all in my mom’s honor and memory,” she said. “Hopefully we will come up with a cure or something that will help slow down what the results of this disease are.”

Gabriel said she admires those who are diabetic who are able to ride in the Tour de Cure.

“For me to ride 100 miles is one thing,” she said. “To have these riders come out that are diabetic, that’s an amazing feat for them to be able to accomplish that.”

Gabriel said she can feel her mom encouraging her to keep going.

“I feel my mom tugging on my heart strings,” she said.

The 2017 Hampton Roads Tour de Cure will take place April 29, beginning and ending at King’s Fork High School. The route options are 10, 25, 65 or 100 miles.

There is a $25 registration fee and a $200 fundraising minimum. The fundraising goal is $450,000; so far about $105,000 has been raised.

Visit for more information about the fundraiser.