Diabetics are accomplishing amazing things these days. Just today, an article in the New York Times highlighted Team Type 1, a group of eight type 1 diabetics organized to compete in the Race Across America. Not only did they win their division this year, they beat their own best time by 21 minutes. (And they have a longer term goal of competing in the Tour de France!) Another diabetic, Gerald Cleveland, has had diabetes for 75 years and holds the record for the oldest type 1 diabetic at the age of 91. He's planning to make it to 100, at least.
I have been fortunate in my life to be able to participate in activities that I enjoy, and reached my 10-year goal of qualifying for and competing in the Boston Marathon in 2006. And about a month ago now (time to get off the couch!), I was able to successfully complete my first Ironman triathlon--a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, 26.2-mile run--in 14 hours, 42 minutes. I have tried to approach life with the attitude that diabetes will not prevent me from reaching my goals, whether in athletics or education/career.
Still, the reality is that managing this disease takes constant vigilance, and even then, outcomes are not certain. I try not to dwell on it too much, but diabetes remains a leading cause of heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and a host of other tough problems. Without insulin, I would die, which is why you won't see me sending hate-mail to Lilly and Novo Nordisk pharmaceuticals. Type 1 diabetes usually strikes children and adolescents, but is also diagnosed in younger adults. The exact cause of the disease is still uncertain, and there are no known ways to prevent its onset.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, or JDRF, is the leading charity whose aim is to support diabetes research leading to a cure and/or prevention of type 1 diabetes. They are one of the top-ranked charities in terms of efficiency and efficacy. One of their current projects is to develop an "artificial pancreas," using insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring to ease the mental burden of the disease and to provide greater control. Researchers are closing in on the cause, and there are many other promising avenues of research that may lead to a cure or a prevention.
I decided when I signed up for the Ironman race last year, that I would try to raise money for the JDRF in conjunction with that. In the end, I decided to do the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in order to take advantage of their fund-raising resources. I will be riding 100 miles in Big Sky country, Montana, on September 22, as part of my effort to raise money for a cure. The fund-raising requirements are higher than most charity events--$4000 is the minimum required by each rider, but my goal is to raise at least $5000.
I realize that there are many demands on our resources, and that you are all already generous with yours. If you would be willing to donate any amount, it would help me to make my goal. (If there's one thing I've learned in marathons and triathlons, it's that every small step takes me that much closer to the goal, and that all I need to do is make sure I am continuing to make forward progress!) If you are able to do so, you can go to my site at the JDRF website, or simply go to jdrf.org and look up my name under the Ride to Cure Diabetes donation page. My site contains more information about my story, and shows a picture from my recent Ironman race. Donating online is available there, or you can donate by check if you prefer (just contact me). All donations are 100% tax-deductible.
Again, here is the link: http://ride.jdrf.org/rider.cfm
Also, if you have any coworkers, friends or family who may be interested in reading more about my experiences, or in donating to the JDRF, please feel free to forward this letter or point them to my JDRF site ( http://ride.jdrf.org/rider.cfm
Finally, if you are not completely bored by my long email and tons of embedded links, you can read even more:
1) My top ten (or eleven) reasons for doing the Ride (please note reason #11);
2) My original post explaining why I signed up;
3) And, my plea for a cure.
Oh and if you are still killing time on the computer, you can check out some of my bike pix/stories:
Point Reyes Lighthouse
Whether or not you are able to donate, thank you for the support and friendship you have all given to me.