Local drawing attention for diabetes ride | ParkRecord.com

Local drawing attention for diabetes ride

Adia Waldburger, of the Record staff

It is amazing the roads which life can take.

For Parkite Sue Morgan, her son’s lifelong battle with Type I juvenile diabetes has taken her down many unexpected paths, but none as beautiful and rewarding as the one leading to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Ride to Cure Diabetes.

"I wanted to find a way to get involved," Morgan said.

Morgan, an avid recreational cyclist, was appointed as the Utah Chapter coach for the ride, which is staged in five scenic venues around the country, including Carmel, Sonoma and Death Valley, Calif., Asheville, N.C. and Whitefish, Mont.

Morgan first became an advocate for Type I diabetes when her son, Alan, a 15-year-old Park City High School student, was diagnosed with the disease. She soon learned of the work of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation — the largest private donor to stem cell research and juvenile diabetes research. They also take part in extensive work for prevention and early detection. Type I juvenile diabetes generally strikes children and there is no known cause or cure. Management of the disease requires daily monitoring of blood sugar, insulin shots and diet control.

"It’s a 24-7 seven disease," explains Morgan. "You can’t take a vacation from blood sugar levels, taking insulin."

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Daily monitoring, along with proper exercise and diet allows sufferers to lead normal lives, but any mistakes could eventually lead to blindness, loss of limbs and kidney disease.

Since being appointed as a head coach, Morgan has certified as a USA Cycling Level 3 coach and has been working diligently to let cyclists in the area know about this unique opportunity.

The event is held over a long weekend with a Thursday night arrival and Sunday departure. Saturday is ride day and participants may choose from distances of 30, 62 or 100 miles. Each rider is asked to earn between $3,500 and $4,000 to finance their participation in the ride as well as some extra to benefit diabetes research. Morgan realizes that this is a large amount to ask of people, but says that it is well worth the effort. The money covers airfare to the ride venue, bike shipment, and lodging and meals over the weekend event. She also is willing to help with fundraising ideas and efforts.

Morgan is quick to point out the quality of the ride. Rather than a grueling race, each ride takes place in a scenic area, and non-race days are filled with sight-seeing and enjoying the beauty of the area.

"The venues are fantastic and each ride is small and personal," Morgan said.

But the bottom line is the difference the ride makes in the lives of youth and adults battling with diabetes.

"I’m trying to combine my passion for cycling and a cure," Morgan said. "At a certain point, it becomes not about the ride, but the cure."

Even those not directly affected by diabetes, are welcome and encouraged to participate.

"It’s great if they want to ride their bike, have a great weekend and race for a good cause," Morgan said

Many of the riders involved have Type I diabetes or are affected by the disease like Morgan. At each site, they try to have a member of the Team Type I, a collection of eight elite cyclists who battle the disease and participate in the Race Across America event for diabetes research.

"They’re great publicity and awesome athletes," Morgan said.

Prior to the ride, Morgan will hold meetings and training opportunities for those who chose to go on the ride. She has secured Jans as the sponsoring bike shop in Park City and is working to establish connections with another shop in Salt Lake. She has also enlisted the help of Young Riders coach Tom Noaker for training purposes.

This Tuesday, Jan. 16, Morgan will hold an informational meeting for all interested cyclists in the Park City, Salt Lake and surrounding areas at her home. The first ride will take place in Carmel, May 17-20. The Sonoma ride will be held June 21-24, followed by Whitefish Aug. 23-26 and Sept. 20-23 and ending with Death Valley Oct. 18-21. For more information on the meeting and the rides, call Morgan at 714-2111 or visit http://www.ride.jdrf.org.