By Patrick Mertes
I am riding in the Tour de Cure because I have experienced, first hand, the positive impact the American Diabetes Association Programs can have on an individual living with Type 1 Diabetes.
Sixteen years ago this summer, a nervous, anxious, newly diagnosed, ten year old version of myself made the three hour drive from Raleigh to King, NC to attend my very first summer at the ADA’s Camp Carolina Trails. Over my seven days at camp, I was surrounded by kids and role model-counselors who were “just like me.” I was introduced to mentors who taught me that the only limitations diabetes could have on my life were the limitations that I would allow it to have. Whether or not I realized it at the time, I left camp that summer a different person. I began to understand the idea that I was a kid living with diabetes, not a diabetic.
Realizing the subtle distinction between the two was life changing.
Sixteen years later and I am still making that same drive out to King, NC ever summer. I firmly believe in the trans-formative power the ADA’s summer camps can have on an impressionable young person living with T1D. I am also well aware that this kind of programming could not be possible without the substantial amount of financing provided by the American Diabetes Association.
When our Tour team leader, Ginna Purrington, approached me with the opportunity to take part in this year’s ride, I jumped on the idea. While my cycling experience is essentially non-existent, I knew the Tour de Cure would serve as an opportunity to fund raise money that would directly affect the vitality of ADA camps across the country.
Regardless of how close we are to a cure in the future, I find it important to not lose sight of the millions of people affected by diabetes in the present. The American Diabetes Association has made it their mission to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.
I am riding to ensure that kids living with diabetes today have the same opportunity I had sixteen years ago.