In August 2010 I hopped on my bicycle and rode 100 miles. In one day. Now obviously there was a great deal of riding that took place before that blistering day in August. I trained for months and although I thought I was in great shape, I found myself around mile 80 literally feeling as though I was going to fall off my bike. I ultimately finished in just over 7 hours and while I was proud of myself, I really didn't have intentions of ever doing another century ride.
A few months before that dreadful day in August my friend Andrew had also trained for and finished his first 100 mile bike ride. His ride was also very hard and like me he pulled through and was able to say, “I did it”. Andrew even did his first ride on a mountain bike (which, if you don’t know, is insane and makes the ride twice as hard)!
My decision to ride was fueled by my desire to stare a 100 mile course in the face and then beat it. When I was at my lowest point on the course, when I wanted to stop and give up, pride and determination drove me to the end.
Andrew has Type 1 Diabetes and was riding in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Ride for a Cure. While he was also riding for some of the same reasons I was, he was primarily riding to raise money and awareness for a condition that he has to deal with and manage every single day. When Andrew got tired and wanted to quit, it was the will to make a difference that kept him going.
We both trained, finished, and celebrated our success...but for much different reasons.
Over the years we have been friends I’ve learned a lot about Type 1 and how he lives with it. I've learned about how Andrew manages his insulin through his pump, and how without it he would die. I’ve learned that Type 1 is the less common of the two types of diabetes making up roughly 5%-10% of the almost 200 million people living with diabetes. I learned that unlike Type 2, Type 1 has no cure and it is caused by immune destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas and is not brought on by diet or lifestyle choices.
After much debate I have decided to get back on the bike and to do another 100 mile ride. This time though, I'm riding in honor of my friend who battles everyday with Type 1 Diabetes. Like Andrew, my goal in the time leading up to the ride in September is to help raise awareness and hopefully a little money for Type 1 diabetes research.
I encourage you to visit this page often for updates on my progress and to learn more about Type 1 diabetes. Additionally, I would certainly appreciate you considering making a gift which you can do directly on this page.
I ran across the following article yesterday and thought I would pass it along.
While it's not clear if his diagnosis was the primary reason for his release, the fact that it's even a possibility is disturbing.
Patriots release defensive tackle Kyle Love after diabetes diagnosis-
In case you had any doubt as to the truism that professional football is a ruthless business, wonder no more. Two weeks after he was diagnosed with diabetes, former New England Patriots defensive tackle Kyle Love was released by the team via a non-football injury designation.
"This comes on the heels of Kyle having been diagnosed within the past two weeks with Type-2 diabetes," Richard Kopelman, Love's agent, told ESPN Boston. "Naturally, we are disappointed that the Patriots decided to part ways with Kyle, especially in light of the fact that a number of elite professional athletes with diabetes both Type-1, which is known to be far more difficult to manage than Type-2 diabetes have had very successful careers in professional football, hockey, baseball and basketball.
"Prior to the diagnosis, Kyle recently experienced unexplained weight loss, but since being diagnosed and having altered his diet, Kyle has regained most of the weight he lost, is in good health, and was not limited in any way during offseason workouts in which he was engaged up until being told he would be released."
Love, who had been with the Patriots since 2010, started 25 games over the last two seasons in the Pats' interior defensive line, most often as Vince Wilfork's bookend. Used primarily as a run-stopping expert, the 6-foot-1, 315-pound undrafted Mississippi State alum signed a two-year, $3.09 million contract extension in 2012 to prevent him from hitting the market as a restricted free agent.
Wilfork, whose father died after a long struggle with the disease, and whose foundation is committed to raising awareness about diabetes, can't be happy about this at all.
Love played his last snaps for New England in the Pats' AFC Championship loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Love suffered a knee injury in the first half, and the Ravens took advantage with several big running plays in the last 30 minutes of the game. According to Pro Football Focus' run defense metrics among defensive tackles, Love was the 22nd most effective player at his position in the league last year.
"Having consulted with leading authorities on the effects of Type-2 diabetes, we have every reason to believe that Kyle will, in the immediate future, be at 100 percent, and will be prepared to participate in training camp in a couple of months," Kopelman concluded. "As Kyle said, 'there is no way something like this is going to stand between me and a long and successful NFL career.'"
Several prominent players have succeeded in the NFL despite known diabetes diagnoses. Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2008, two years after the Denver Broncos selected him in the first round. Three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Sinclair, who racked up 73.5 sacks for the Seattle Seahawks between 1992 and 2001, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes late in his career. And offensive guard Kendall Simmos started 83 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills from 2002 through 2009 as a Type 1.5 (Latent Autoimmune) diabetic.
Simmons is now a full-time advocate for those who manage diabetes.
"I wasn't going to use diabetes as an excuse for missing a block or use [my blood sugar] being high and not really being able to focus as an excuse for missing an assignment," Simmons told the War Eagle Reader in 2011 . "But you have to mentally tell yourself, 'I can do this.'"
Clearly, Kyle Love has told himself the same thing, and we wish him the best.
May: Training Begins
I hope this note finds you all doing well. I want to first start this update by publicly thanking those of you that have visited my fundraising page and made such generous donations. My only reservation about signing up to do this ride was around fundraising and whether or not I would reach my goal of $2,000. As a professional fundraiser it's a little strange asking family and friends to consider giving. I am sincerely grateful for those of you that have joined me in this pursuit of finding a cure for T1D. To date I have raised $1,385 of the $2,000 I committed to. If you haven't had an opportunity to visit my site and make a contribution I would ask that you consider doing so.
In regard to the ride itself, I am excited to report that I will officially start training May 11. I have stayed off the bike until now because I was training for the Country Music Half Marathon. This was my third half in 12 months and was my best yet. I finished with a time of 2:26 (which was about 33 minutes faster than my run in November). So, training begins and it will start out slow. My fitness is up thanks to the half but it will take a little bit to get my "bike legs" back. For those of you that are REALLY interested in my strategy for the ride, I have made it a priority to cut weight. I'm currently at 234 which is about 10 pounds less than when I started training for the half. My goal weight is 220 and I will hopefully get there sometime in August. Losing weight isn't just about being healthier; every pound I shed is another that I don't have to carry the 100 miles. It will make me faster plus, the lighter I am the more oxygen my body will be able to take in and use, thus increasing my output. Isn't exercise science cool?
Finally, I wanted to share an interesting story with you that Andrew told me a while ago. Two years ago when Andrew first rode in the Ride to Cure he created a "team" made up of family and friends who were following his training and fundraising just like you are mine. He team was called the Shafer Ten Year Team.
As Andrew explained to me, when he was first diagnosed with Type 1 in 1998 the doctors told him and his family that there would be a cure for diabetes in 10 years. They told him that researchers (like the ones that receive funding from JDRF) were literally on the edge of a breakthrough and that fortunately for Andrew he would only have to struggle with T1D for 10 years. 10 years to a cure.
It's been 15 since Andrew had that conversation and while there have certainly been advances, and we have learned more about how T1D operates, we are still teetering on that edge. Your investment in this research, through JDRF, helps move the needle bit by bit and will be put to work to find the cure. I'm riding to help ensure that it's not another 10 years before Andrew, and others battling T1D, can ditch the pump, insulin shots, etc. and live free of diabetes.
Thanks again for your support and be on the look out for another update in June.
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Andrew, Jessica, Barnes, and Frances Shafer
Anne and Jeff Shafer
Bob & Dorothy Bryson
Brian and Jen Hardy
Dr. Mark Zipper
Eric and Tyra Haag
Jon, Marjorie, Nate and Russ Petty
Joseph and Emily Hubbard
Judi & Jeff Petty
Mary Jo Wiggins
Mike and Linda Davidson
Mr. Nathan M Zipper
Ms. Mary Johnson
Patti & Doug Greenwell
Rachel and Justin Albright
Ride Sign Up Incentive
Roy & Marti Jordan
Steve and Karen Catlett
Steve, Debbie, and Hannah Hagewood