Diabetes doesn't have to hold you back. That is the lesson a dedicated group of young cyclists are learning as they train twice a week for the upcoming Tour de Cure taking place in Chattanooga on Saturday, May 19.
While most kids are home watching television, playing games or hanging out with friends, these riders are doing something to help stop diabetes while learning how to deal with the challenges of managing a disease that can turn a kid's world upside down and make them feel like an outsider at social events.
"Diabetes can be such a difficult diagnosis because you have to change your entire lifestyle," said Wendi Mullins with the local American Diabetes Association. "For children and young adults, it can seem like a punishment.”
George Andrews knows that feeling all too well. Mr. Andrews was inspired by his son, who discovered can do anything he sets his mind to (even with diabetes) when he participated in the Tour de Cure seven years ago at the age of 11. He approached Partners & Peers for Diabetes Care, Inc., about starting a youth team to ride in the 2012 Tour.
"This is a great way to not only raise money to help stop diabetes, but a fun way to learn to manage diabetes with exercise and healthy living," said Claire Blum with Partners & Peers for Diabetes Care, a Chattanooga nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people with diabetes to take an active role in their health care. "It is proof that diabetes doesn't have to hold you back."
For Whit McDonald, the opportunity to ride on a Red Rider team with other kids with diabetes sounded like fun and a great way to help the American Diabetes Association. The 12-year-old rider has had diabetes for 3 years and is taking on the 62-mile course in his first road race.
"Biking long distances is a challenge, but keeping my blood sugar at a good level is also a challenge," said Whit. "I hope this shows others that diabetes doesn't have to hold you back."
The Chattanooga Tour de Cure kicks off at 6 a.m. on Saturday, May 19, at the First Tennessee Pavilion. Individuals and teams can chose from a 10-mile family fun ride or courses that are 18-mile, 25-mile, 62-mile or 100-mile in length.