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Virtual Tour brings in money for ADA

The Tour de Cure is put on every year in Suffolk by the American Diabetes Association, but due to gathering restrictions, the tour was virtual this year.

The Tour de Cure is a cycling and running event held to raise money to help fight against diabetes. Even though the event could not be in person this year, all of the day’s usual elements were captured virtually.

“COVID-19 may have stopped us from physically getting together, but it hasn’t stopped our mission,” said Tracey Brown, chief executive officer of the American Diabetes Association, in her event kick-off video.

A Facebook event page was the new headquarters for the event. On this page, participants posted pictures and videos of their preparation and how they were participating. The goal was to move for at least 34 minutes in honor of the 34 million people living with diabetes. Most walked, ran or biked, but as long as they were active, it didn’t matter how.

There was a welcome video, hosted by event emcees LeAnne Rains Benedetto of LR Productions and Symone Davis, lifestyle correspondent for WAVY-TV 10 and FOX 43.

“We are very pleased with the success of our Virtual Tour de Cure event this past Saturday. We had 512 registered event participants, and close to 200 of them indicated they were attending the virtual event on our social media page,” said Deanie Eldridge, Virginia and West Virginia executive director.

The welcome started with the singing of the national anthem by Dr. Thomas Joly from Virginia Eye Consultants, a sponsor of the event. Then Benedetto and Davis gave safety reminders to all the participants of the tour. Before the start, fitness consultant Tasha Turnbull lead a warm-up to stretch and get heart rates up.

Once the event started, there were virtual rest and hydration stops on the Facebook event page. The stops included a video from sponsors to replicate tents at the event.

A virtual cooking demonstration took place with a diabetic-friendly recipe from Dedra Blount and Debra Brabson from Now You’re Cooking Culinary Studio. They showed how to make grilled chicken with zucchini.

Next, a health care panel answered questions about diabetes, moderated by Marielena Balouris from WAVY-TV 10 and FOX 43. Local doctors from across Hampton Roads responded to questions that many people who have diabetes, or have family members who do, want to know.

In post-event entertainment, renowned eye surgeon and president of Virginia Eye Consultants, Dr. John Sheppard, played “God Bless America” on his keytar.

“We exceeded our 34-day, $34,000 Virtual Tour fundraising challenge by almost $10,000, and to date, we have raised over $265,000 for the cause. Our day of event participation far exceeded our expectations, with numerous area participants and volunteers sharing their stories, as well as photos and videos of their activity. We are so grateful to the community for their amazing support, even in challenging times. Though physically distanced, our donors came together on June 20 for a cause that connects them,” said Eldridge.

The virtual Tour de Cure ended with a completion certificate for all who participated.