There are particular moments in life we never forget. For me, one of those moments was crossing the finish line at last year’s JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in Nashville. It wasn’t my first ride or even my longest ride—but it was definitely my toughest ride.
It all happened in the middle of a cold snap where temperatures dropped into the 20s and didn’t rise above 35 degrees on Ride Day. There was a headwind around every turn, and to hit 25 mph on the downhills required great effort. It was the most bizarre day on the bike I’ve ever experienced. If it had been any other ride, I would’ve bailed. But I had worked hard training and raising money for research, and I was determined to persevere despite the wind and freezing temps. In the last 10 miles, I hit my wall and didn’t think I was going to make it. JDRF Coach Mike Clark rode alongside me and asked what I was looking forward to the most at the finish line. “My parents,” I said.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11, so diabetes has always been a family affair. I haven’t always done a great job at managing it. Particularly through college and the years that followed, I made horrible decisions in relation to my health, and my diabetes suffered. Looking back, it’s not an exaggeration to say I’m lucky to be alive. As an adult who takes care of my diabetes much differently now, I understand the worry and fear my parents felt during the years I struggled with my diabetes management. When I found cycling through JDRF in 2011, everything changed. To be able to ride my bike, I had to control my numbers. My parents found relief knowing my new hobby had changed the way I accepted and managed the disease.
When I finally crossed the finish line in Nashville, I saw my mother first. I looked in her eyes and could see the tears. She hugged me and then we were enveloped by all of my friends who came out to support me. It’s not a moment I’ll ever be able to adequately describe, but it’s a moment I will never forget. It was when I realized type 1 diabetes would never limit me, and I would never stop fighting for a cure.
It was a moment of gratefulness for the past and hopefulness for the future.
I don’t know your JDRF Ride story, but I know you have a reason to ride. The Nashville cycling community has a tremendous amount of T1D connections. What better way to support those friends than through raising money toward a cure for T1D. We’re lucky to have a JDRF Ride in our own back yard. This is the time to do it—to ride for someone else, to support this community of type 1 athletes, to support your friends. If you’re here, we’re connected. Let me be your reason to ride.
Please join me at JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in Nashville this year. It’s not too late to sign up, and I’ll be your biggest cheerleader.