Ride to Cure Diabetes

On Sept. 22, six Edmond residents anxiously awoke to an early fall sky in Whitefish, Montana, gateway to Glacier National Park, eager to participate in the 2007 Ride to Cure Diabetes, a 100 mile bike ride sponsored by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).  Sharon Domek, Patrice and Scott Greenawalt, Dave Schneider and Shannon Pratt joined coach John Bryant, seven other Oklahomans and almost 150 other riders in a team effort that raised $700,000 to fund research to find a cure for diabetes.

After months of training, shipping their bikes to Montana one week before the event, and a nightmare of delayed plane connections, they arrived at their destination and participated in a training ride on Friday morning. On Saturday morning, the Greenawalts and Central Oklahoma Ride Team gathered to sing the National Anthem before pedaling off on their journey with an official police escort.

“It was an exciting morning because we were all trying to do the same thing—support each other and make a difference for the cause,” Patrice said.

The purpose of the Ride to Cure Diabetes is to support the work of JDRF whose mission is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research.  Diabetes is what results when the human body has a problem producing insulin, using it effectively, or both.  Without insulin, the body is unable to turn food into energy.  The Greenawalt’s youngest daughter, Lucy, joined the 3 million Americans living with type 1 diabetes in 1990, at the age of three.

“The first year is challenging because you go through the first of everything: birthdays, sickness, and holidays,” Patrice said.  “Now it’s a way of life for our family.”

The Greenawalts searched for support and connected with JDRF, an organization founded in 1970 by parents of children with type 1 diabetes.  It is the world’s largest charitable funder and advocate of diabetes research, responsible for more than $1 billion in funding since it was founded.

“I have done a lot of fundraising with the Passageway Shelter for battered women and children, but I wanted to focus energy on my daughter’s disease,” said Patrice.
    
Patrice learned about the Ride to Cure Diabetes at another JDRF event, but was unable to participate at the time.  In February 2007, motivated by her devotion to Lucy’s cure, a weight loss goal, and a desire to spend more time with her husband, Patrice approached Scott about training for the 2007 Ride to Cure Diabetes challenge.

“Scott started looking at bicycles, and in the same day we bought brand new bikes and started training,” Patrice said.  “Cycling is something we can do together even after the ride is over.”

Patrice often saw her Edmond neighbor, John Bryant, riding his bike and approached him to help her train.  The team had so much to learn that she convinced him to come on board as team coach.    

In addition to riding 100 miles, each participant was responsible for raising $4,000 to cover trip expenses.  Together, the Greenawalts raised over $8,000 in three months.  

After all the fundraising, training and traveling, the team rode out at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning from Grouse Mountain Lodge, which hosted the cyclists, where the fall season was in full swing.  Aspen leaves were changing their color and snow capped the mountains in nearby Glacier National Park.

“The first loop, called the ‘Star Meadow Route,’ was 52 miles long and had the most challenging hills, including ten consecutive uphill miles,” Patrice said.  “The second leg, or ‘Whitefish Lake Route,’ was 22 miles and had breathtaking views of Whitefish Lake, some challenging hills and a bear sighting!”

The scenic and fairly flat third and final loop totaled 26 miles and was known as the “Northfork Route.”  Cyclists who rode all three loops completed 100 miles and climbed 9,000 feet.  To get them through physical challenges of the course, Patrice and two other teammates alternated singing motivational verses.

“Unlike other rides, there was no competition,” said Patrice.  “Everyone who passed you was cheering you on.  We cheered them on, too.”
    
Both Greenawalts completed 100 miles in about ten hours.  The mood at the finish line was exhilarating as Patrice, Scott, and their teammates waited to congratulate every rider on their accomplishment.
    
“It was really incredible to have my children so proud of us for setting a goal, training for it and reaching it,” said Patrice.  “It was a fundraising goal for JDRF, a health goal for our community and an athletic goal for us.  My goal for next year is to double our ride team because this was an awesome opportunity to raise money for research.”

For more information on the Ride to Cure Diabetes or to inquire about joining the team visit http://ride.jdrf.org, or call (405) 810-0070.

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