Celebrating Tour and commending volunteers

Published 10:38 pm Friday, February 22, 2019

Riders, runners and walkers met with the American Diabetes Association Thursday evening for the 2019 Hampton Roads Tour de Cure kick-off party held at Roger Brown’s Restaurant and Sports Bar in Portsmouth.

In addition to research updates, changes to this year’s event and comments from special guests like youth ambassadors Maddy Sershen and Ryan Setzer were featured, and many others were recognized for their fundraising contributions and other support.

Dr. Glenn Jones, assistant professor of clinical internal medicine at the University of Virginia and Eastern Virginia Medical School, was recognized as the top team captain by raising $11,425 as part of the Sentara Medical Group corporate team in last year’s Tour.

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The top team for last year’s event was Team Portsmouth, who raised $50,031 — doubling their fundraising from the 2017 Tour de Cure. John Maher, captain of Team Portsmouth, accepted that award, along with another as the 2018 Volunteer of the Year award.

Maher has been part of the Tour for 14 years, starting with a team of just two riders that’s since grown to roughly 100 individuals, each of them dedicated to supporting the ADA in its search for a cure.

“I would tell every team here (that) you can start with two, four or five riders, and the sky’s the limit,” Maher said.

The Hampton Roads Tour de Cure is an annual fundraiser for diabetes research, education and advocacy efforts that draws thousands of participants each year. It will return this year on April 27 at Suffolk Executive Airport, 1200 Gene Bolton Drive.

There will be 12-, 30-, 65- and 100-mile routes for cyclists, as well as a 5K run and walk.

“With the support of our Tour de Cure riders, runners and walkers, we are generating great momentum in the fight against diabetes,” said event chair Arlene Sadoff. “Your support has allowed the ADA to continue to be a leader for the diabetes community, advocating for fair treatment on Capitol Hill, driving critical developments in research for a cure and providing the necessary education and resources for those in need of support.”

More than $834 million has been invested since the ADA implemented its research program in 1952, funding more than 4,700 research projects nationwide, said Dana Stallings, nurse practitioner and diabetes specialist with Bayview Physicians Group.

The ADA supported 297 active diabetes investigators last year at 104 of the nation’s leading research institutions. These projects are focused on discoveries that benefit Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes.

“ADA’s goal is to launch the careers of bright scientific minds with brilliant ideas,” Stallings said, “and it’s important to note that 99 percent of ADA-funded researchers remain in the field of diabetes, and approximately 85 percent are able to then obtain federal funding for their work within five years of (the ADA) giving them their start.”

The ADA has made some improvements to this year’s Tour based on feedback from last year, including a “new and improved” 5K run and walk and the welcome addition of paved parking.

“The routes are similar to last year with quiet, flat roads in Suffolk and North Carolina,” Sadoff said.

Registration will open for 100- and 65-mile riders at 6 a.m. before they leave the airport at 7:30 a.m. The 30- and 12-mile riders will register starting at 7:30 a.m. and depart at 8:30 a.m., while the 5K runners and walkers will start registering at 9 a.m. and head out at 10 a.m.

Breakfast will be served starting at 6 a.m. and include scrambled eggs, turkey and pork sausage, yogurt, oatmeal and biscuits. Suffolk BBQ Co. at the Airport will be serving a post-ride meal, as well as a VIP meal for Champions who raise $1,000 or more.

The 100-mile riders will enjoy a healthy meal donated by the Hertford McDonald’s, and all participants ages 21 and older will be treated to a complimentary post-ride beer from Beach Ambassadors. Beer will also be for sale for those who come to cheer on participants, as well.

The afterparty will include live music from the Fuzz Band and Astro DJs, along with games and free screenings and educational material in the wellness village.

Registration for cyclists is $20 through March 31 and increases to $25 starting April 1. The fundraising minimum for cyclists is $200. Runners and walkers have a fundraising minimum of $100 and do not pay a registration fee. All participants ages 12 and younger have just a $50 fundraising minimum.

The fundraising goal for this upcoming Tour is $525,000. As of Friday evening, $134,357.81 has been raised, with 68 teams and 508 total participants registered so far.

RSVP to the kickoff online at diabetes.org/hrtdckickoff. For more information on the event, visit diabetes.org/hrtdc or call 424-6662 ext. 3269. Those interested in volunteering can contact Robin Kantor via email at RKantor@diabetes.org.