Last Saturday morning's alarm came extra early at 4:30. I sprang out of bed full of excitement to participate in an annual event that we've enjoyed for the past 6 years - either as riders or volunteers. The American Diabetes Association's Tour du Cure is a bicycle ride fundraiser for diabetes research. Chances are, you know someone who lives with this disease.
Some years our team has been just me and my son riding. Other years we've added family and friends to our peddling posse. My son was with with his mother this past weekend so I volunteered as a photographer again this year. Between the pre-ride festivities and stops along the routes (the tour has 10, 25, 65 and 100 mile ride options) I shot over a thousand photos. About half of those images made the culling to be posted for the participants to enjoy. See the riders wearing the red jerseys with the triangle logo? No, it's not the Russian Illuminati, those are riders that who currently suffer from diabetes. "Go, Red Riders!"
Hopefully, these photos help complete the experience for riders and volunteers alike, encourage their friends and family to join in the fun next year, and/or generally raise awareness for this disease which could be curable in our lifetime with enough funding. There's some amazing research going on now with stem cells, micro-technologies and immune system treatments. If you're not sure how a bunch of strangely dressed folks cycling around country roads one Saturday a year can have an impact, well this single event raised $314,345.12 in pledges and donations. With over 80 events across the US each year, that starts to add up to real money. After expenses, ADA sends out over $150 million each year to diabetes research grants, champions advocacy projects and promotes information programs. ADA is a pretty efficient non-profit too with an overhead of only about $27%.
I would encourage everyone to get involved in some cause that you care about - something that hits home whether it be one of the many illness related research foundations, a local food bank, homeless/women's/youth shelter, animal rescue, environmental cause, whatever. It only takes some of your time and maybe a bit of effort - we are all good at something.
Finding volunteer opportunities in your area is as easy as clicking the link in this sentence. We live in a fast-paced world with never enough hours in a day to squeeze it all in, but making the time to volunteer just a few hours here and there is not only worth while, but an incredibly rewarding experience.