Riding to find a cure

Published 9:38 pm Saturday, April 28, 2018

Bike riders rolled up to the start line as the sun was still rising to get ready for their 100-mile bike ride at the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure at the Suffolk Executive Airport.

The Tour de Cure featured four bike routes — 100-mile, 63-mile, 30-mile and 12-mile — and there was a 5K walk/run for those that chose to attend sans bike.

Almost 1,000 participants showed up for the event, and the Tour de Cure had raised $377,977 as of 9 a.m. Saturday. The ADA’s goal was $450,000, and there is still time to donate.

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Before the riders got started, a member of the ADA Leadership Board, LeAnne Raines Benedetto, addressed the riders and got them pumped up for the race. Benedetto has Type I diabetes, and she has been diagnosed since 2009.

“I got diagnosed in my 40s, and I never imagined it would be me,” Benedetto said.

The ADA has given Benedetto a family to share in what she calls a “messy disease.” The ADA has provided information and support, and they provide diabetics the opportunity to talk with fellow diabetics about their disease.

“It’s about having a fellowship,” Benedetto said.

Many of those biking the 100-mile race have diabetes, and they are known as “Red Riders” to those participating.

Dozens of volunteers in orange shirts covered the event, and most of the volunteers decided to participate because diabetes has affected their lives in some way.

“I love giving back and paying it forward,” volunteer Germaine Berry said. “My mother has Type II diabetes, and so does my sister. It showed me the importance of working out and staying healthy.”

“I decided to participate in the event because I enjoy volunteering,” said volunteer Chantel Moore. “I also give back because my father-in-law passed away from diabetes.”

Despite it being so early in the morning, participants and volunteers cheered loudly the minute the biker riders rolled past the start line.

“It’s really great energy here this morning,” said Robin Kantor, ADA Hampton Roads director of development. “Seeing all these riders has been amazing. They have this passion for finding a cure, and so many of them are riding with diabetes.”

Kantor enjoyed hearing everyone’s stories as they got ready to ride the race, and their stories “fuel the day and energy.”

“I want everyone to have a great time and raise money to help find a cure,” Kantor said.

There were multiple teams present at the event, and Team Portsmouth had raised the most money for the Tour de Cure with a total of $42,148.