People With Diabetes Help Raise Funds and Awareness
Dana Boisvert always assumed there was nothing he could do to prevent type 2 diabetes. “With a history of diabetes in my family and being overweight and inactive, I figured diabetes was a foregone conclusion for me,” says Boisvert, a 47-year-old software developer in Nashua, New Hampshire.
By the time he was diagnosed in 2012—during a three-week hospital stay for an unrelated condition—he began to see things differently. There was plenty he could do to take charge of his health, starting with rekindling his love of bicycling. “The last time I rode my bike was when I was a kid,” he says.
He’d been riding regularly for several years when he spotted an ad for the annual Tour de Cure®, a series of cycling events that bring bicyclists together to help raise money for the American Diabetes Association (ADA). As with the ADA’s Step Out® Walk to Stop Diabetes®, the money raised goes toward diabetes research and education. “As soon as I saw the ad and saw that it benefited the ADA, I signed up,” says Boisvert.
At the time, the longest ride he had done was 15 miles. To prepare for the event, he participated in training rides that Tour de Cure teams or the event’s planning committee arranged. “In 2016, I rode in the North Shore Tour de Cure, and I did the 63-mile ride,” Boisvert says. The event prepared him for the 150-mile ride he did later that year.
Even though Boisvert was nervous about his first two-day tour—and the searing July heat—he completed his ride. Every year since then, Boisvert has participated in the Tour de Cure in a nearby Massachusetts town, each time logging 150 miles over the course of the two-day ride. He’s raised a total of $5,500 since that first ride, a point of pride for Boisvert.
He’s also a proud Red Rider. Anyone can register and participate in Tour de Cure events, but participants with type 1 or type 2 diabetes receive a Red Rider jersey to wear while cycling. (Step Out participants with diabetes, meanwhile, are known as Red Striders.)
“You kind of feel like a celebrity with the jersey on during the bike ride,” says Chelsea Johnson, a 31-year-old physical therapist in Arlington, Massachusetts, who has type 1 diabetes. “It’s a good conversation starter when meeting people in the community. There is this unspoken understanding about what life is like with diabetes and how hard you have to work to cycle.”
Johnson, who participated in the Tour de Cure for the first time last year, raised a little over $1,000 for the ADA. “The community is the No. 1 reason why people come back,” she says. Being able to participate makes her grateful for the support system she has. “Riding is like a huge thank-you from me to my family and friends for being so supportive and helping me raise money.”