Tour de Cure rides again in Suffolk

Published 9:14 pm Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cyclists and volunteers in Suffolk helped in the pursuit of a cure on Saturday.

The annual American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure event was held at King’s Fork High School on Saturday. It marked the 23rd year for the annual event in Hampton Roads, and its sixth year at the Suffolk school.

The ADA teamed up with the Suffolk community and corporate sponsors to organize more than 700 riders undertaking 100-, 65-, 25- and 10-mile cycling routes. The event helped to raise funds for diabetes research, education and advocacy efforts.

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“We always feel very welcomed and supported by the city of Suffolk, its police department, Parks and Recreation, community organizations and all the other city services that support our event,” said Deanie Eldridge, Virginia area executive director.

Eldridge said they’re approximately “three quarters of the way” towards the $450,000 fundraising goal for the year. Donations towards the goal will continue to be accepted until the end of December, and she expects more donations to come in May after the event.

“People come out here, have a great time, take pictures and then send donation requests to friends and family,” she said.

Todd Miller rode with the Liberty Tax company team, which had about 50 riders this year and raised more than $21,000. Miller said the 100-mile ride on Saturday with his teammates was his fourth this year and not his last.

“I’m doing one next weekend at Knotts Island, and the week after that is Cap2Cap,” he said.

He described Tour as a fun and social event with his fellow riders.

“It’s fun,” he said. “Once you start doing it, you get addicted to it.”

Shelby Frank signed up to do the 25-mile route, then volunteer for the rest of the afternoon. Frank was part of the Hampton Roads ADA for eight years before her current marketing coordinator position at Dixon Hughes Goodman in Norfolk.

Her favorite part of the event is seeing everyone cross the finish line.

“Everyone has worked really hard for this, especially the Red Riders in their jerseys,” she said.

“Red Riders” refer to participants with diabetes. One of those was Doug Bater, a Virginia Beach resident with Type 2 diabetes. He said he trained on the stationary bike at his gym four days a week for more than a month. He’s been riding for seven years.

He said diabetes hasn’t kept him from his goals.

“It shouldn’t prevent you from doing anything you want to do,” he said.

About 400 volunteers helped the Tour go smoothly for participants. This includes rest stop volunteers along the routes, medical support for riders, bike mechanics, motorcycle support, police and route marshals.

“That’s what it takes to do Tour de Cure,” volunteer coordinator Anastasia Peele said.

Riders received a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits, fruit and yogurt with Starbucks coffee. Two food trucks provided lunch, along with Subway, which donated sandwiches for all the volunteers and riders on the 100-mile route.

“We couldn’t do something like this without people donating tents, food and medical support,” said community leadership board member and event MC LeAnne Benedetto. “We’re really grateful.”

Benedetto developed late-onset Type 1 diabetes eight years ago. She said she’s touched by the people that came out to support the ADA cause.

“At first I wasn’t that interested in a cure; I was just interested in managing it,” she said. “But the longer I have this, the more I’m sick of it. I really appreciate these events that raise money to help find a cure.”