Cyclist Dads Raise Funds for Diabetes
Geoff Kase has wanted a cure for diabetes for as long as he can remember: Both his father, Jim, and son, Aidan, 9, have type 1 diabetes. So to raise awareness of diabetes and money for research, Kase called in some fathers for reinforcement.
Kase, 46, of Berwyn, Pa., is the founder of Kase's Corner, a nonprofit organization and team of cyclists (kasescorner.org) working to support people with diabetes. In 2007, Kase first learned about the Tour de Cure® ride in central Pennsylvania.
"That's what I like to call my get-up-off-the-couch moment," he says. "It wasn't like I wasn't already engaged, because the moment your son is diagnosed, you're all over it. I thought [the Tour] was a great way to have a public and visual reminder that there are other people out there and other people looking to help him."
Kase had cycled in the past, and he rallied other fathers at his son's elementary school to form a team of riders. Together, the weekend warriors train throughout the year to increase their own fitness and raise money for the American Diabetes Association and other diabetes-related organizations. More than 50 riders will cycle with the team in Pennsylvania this year.
The two-pronged approach to fund-raising and fitness remains the core value of Kase's Corner, which is now involved in several Tour de Cure events. "It's turned into a great, great positive reinforcement for what my son deals with every day, and frankly some of the things we're trying to lead him into—diet and exercise—these are messages that often fall on deaf ears for kids," he says.
The community has taken notice of Kase's Corner. Molly McGlinchey, Tour de Cure manager for the ADA's Philadelphia office, says the Kase's Corner team motivates the rest of the Tour riders. The team has been the top fund-raiser in every Tour it has taken part in. This year it raised more than $19,500 for the Philadelphia Tour alone.
"Geoff and his team are just so enthusiastic about the ride and being involved with the American Diabetes Association," McGlinchey says. "I think other teams aspire to be like that. It's really an inspiration to others."
Kase's Corner has been branching out beyond cycling. The group hosted a backyard barbecue that raised more than $3,000 for diabetes research, and the dads who make up the organization's board of directors plan to do other fund-raisers. The focus, Kase says, is to have fun while working to promote the cause: finding a cure for diabetes.
"Sure, it's fun for all of us to ride together and get in shape together … but the confidence and hope that it instills in my son are at the core of why I do it," Kase says. One example of that confidence: Kase recently had to explain a classmate's diagnosis with an incurable disease to Aidan. "We said, 'It's not unlike what you have. He takes medicine,' " Kase recalls. "Aidan said, 'That's not like what I have. They're going to find a cure for diabetes.' Something's going right there, if he's got that much hope."
To find a Tour de Cure event near you, visit diabetes.org/tour.