Giving Back

Pedals With a Purpose

The American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure raises money for diabetes research and education. Just don't call it a bike race.

More than 25 million children and adults are currently living with diabetes in the United States, with roughly 2 million new cases diagnosed each year. “Because it’s a chronic disease that you really have to take care of carefully all day, every day,” said Nicole Preston, director of special events for the American Diabetes Association (ADA), “helping people learn how to do that is very important.”

One way ADA spreads the message is through its annual Tour de Cure — a series of bike tours in 88 different U.S. cities, benefiting diabetes research and education. The tours are rides, not races, ADA stresses, and are open to all ages and riding abilities. Each tour encompasses four or five different routes, and ranges from 10 to 100 miles. Riders come from all over, some with loved ones who live with diabetes, some who manage the disease themselves, and “beyond that,” Preston said, “there’s a good percentage who do it because it’s a great ride, it’s a great event, and they like doing it for a good cause.”

Last year’s Tour de Cure program involved 52,463 riders nationwide and raised more than $26 million. The Miami Tour de Cure, held Feb. 10, kicked off this year’s fundraisers, with nearly 550 riders raising $133,000. ABTS Convention Services, which serves medical association meetings in the United States, sponsored the tour — a first for the Miami-based company, after nearly a decade as an international sales and marketing partner for AD A’s annual Scientific Sessions conference. “Our cooperation and work together enabled us to help spread the diabetes mission across the world,” said ABTS President Davide Veglia. “Rather than just giving back like we did in previous years, which was just a financial contribution, this year we took it a step further.”

ABTS employees were on site, assisting riders and managing a rest stop on the tour’s 68-mile route, and the company also sponsored a team of riders, who wore specially made ABTS jerseys. The event was a perfect fit, Veglia said, because ABTS supports education in medicine all over the world. “We believe this has tremendous impact on local communities where people don’t have access to education or medication,” he said.

At the end of the Miami Tour de Cure, there was a post-ride celebration where ADA explained to participants how the money they raised would be allocated. “First and foremost, we do a lot of research to find a cure for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and advocacy,” Preston said. “We have a division of ADA that fights for people with diabetes, so that they don’t suffer discrimination in the workplace and at schools.” Donations also go to ADA’s educational offerings, including information the organization provides through its website and call center.

“We have amazing stories of people who’ve overcome so much,” Preston said. “It’s really motivating and gratifying. They’ve lost weight, or reduced their blood pressure or cholesterol. All of those stories are really inspiring. I go out and I ride as many as I can every year, and to be able to share that with them is very rewarding.” 

Sarah Beauchamp

Sarah Beauchamp was formerly assistant editor of Convene.