Kids ride as ambassadors

Published 4:34 pm Saturday, March 10, 2018

Two teenagers from Hampton Roads will ride in the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure cycling fundraiser this April as ADA Youth Ambassadors.

Madelynn Sershen, 14, of Elizabeth City, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 5. Her initial symptoms ranged from weight loss to constant thirst.

“We couldn’t get her enough water to drink and it really concerned us, so we took her to a doctor and she got her blood sugar tested,” her father, Rod Sershen, said in a phone interview. The test showed her blood sugar was in the mid-500s.

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Sershen typically rides the 100-mile route in the Tour for Maddy’s Musketeers, which has raised several thousand dollars since 2010 with further support from Maddy’s mother, Nicole Sershen, and her sisters, Aubrey, 5, and Faith, 17. Maddy and her father will ride together in the 30-mile route this year.

Ryan Setzer, 16 is a Youth Ambassador for the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure this April. (submitted photo)

“Maddy got a new bike, and we’re going to try it out,” Sershen said.

She said being an ADA Youth Ambassador is an awesome opportunity to help other children that face the same daily trials of managing diabetes.

“It’s been hard, yes, but I’ve gotten into a course,” she said. “I’ve done it for a long time. It’s a tough journey, but I’ve gone through it.”

Her fellow ADA Youth Ambassador Ryan Setzer, 16, of Virginia Beach, has been riding since 2010 as well while fighting the same disease.

Ryan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in August 2009, when he was 7 years old. He showed similar telltale signs to Madelynn about a week before his yearly physical, and it was at that appointment that he received his diagnosis.

“People told me, but I didn’t get the full grasp of how my life would change,” he said, which changed after he began his insulin regimen. “That was really eye opening for me, just realizing that everything you eat has a consequence now, and if you don’t take action, those consequences are pretty serious.”

His family’s “Fly’n Ryan” Tour team has worked to hit its $1,000 fundraising goal each year since he rode the first 10-miler in 2010, when the Tour was held in Chesapeake.

“It was difficult,” Ryan laughed. “It was really windy, and I had a one-speed bike. It wasn’t a good combination.”

Ryan will be riding in the 30-mile route this year while his father, Jim Setzer, coordinates photography and Setzer’s fiancé, Denise Borsari, runs the 5K along with other team members.

“The Tour de Cure is a great way for everyone — diabetics and non-diabetics — to come together and help,” Ryan said.

The 2018 Hampton Roads Tour de Cure will take place on April 28, beginning and ending at the Suffolk Executive Airport. The route options are 12, 30, 63 and 100 miles. There will also be a 5K run and walk for those that don’t wish to ride.

There is a $25 registration fee and a $200 fundraising minimum. The registration fee will go up to $30 on April 1. The fundraising goal is $450,000, and approximately $193,482 has been raised as of Saturday.

Visit diabetes.org/hrtdc or call 424-6662 ext. 3269 for more information.