Mari Ruddy, a Colorado Tour de Cure rider, is the founder of the Red Rider program. Mari has lived with type 1 diabetes for more than 25 years. Here's the reason why Mari wants to recognize people with diabetes that ride in a Tour de Cure as Red Riders:
"I have type I diabetes. I have lived with this challenging disease since I was 16 years old. That's over 25 years of blood testing, shots, insulin pumping, carb counting, and meal planning. If that wasn't enough, two years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because of living with diabetes, I thought I understood illness. However, chemo, radiation, and surgery all knocked me down harder than I ever imagined possible. But my lot in life is to get back up no matter the punch. And with the support and love of my family and friends, excellent medical care, and the good fortune of life, I'm officially NED (no evidence of disease). At least no evidence of cancer, as I still have diabetes. That was a rude awakening, if only chemo could cure diabetes.
In my 25 years of living with diabetes, I have walked, run and cycled for the cure for diabetes, but never once at any of these events was I asked to declare myself as a diabetes-surviving person. I was never given a special t-shirt or water bottle. There has never been a special finish line acknowledging the courage, perseverance, and sheer determination it takes to live with diabetes and be out on that course riding, running or walking.
I want this to change.
Mari Ruddy &
Marcey Robinson, C.D.E.
I want you to help me change this. I want to work to find the cure AND to celebrate the people who are courageously living with diabetes. I want you to help me encourage people with diabetes to become RED RIDERS!
One could think I just want special recognition, and maybe I do. Why? Because receiving the recognition on race day gives me and my fellow diabetics the motivation to continue seeing the glass half full on the days when our blood sugar soars to 400 for no explainable reason, or when we have no desire to eat but we must or risk passing out if we don't.
Cancer is dramatic. Diabetes is a grind. Both drop people at the door of death, just in different styles.
If you are a person surviving diabetes, I implore you to ride this year and do everything you can to declare your status, so others on the course and in the wider community have the opportunity to celebrate and be inspired by you. I ask you to get on your bike and ride strong and sure. Riding in the Tour de Cure itself is the affirmation of your courage and perseverance."