I talk a lot about the impact Tour de Cure has on the diabetes community. I talk about the money raised-where it goes and how it helps—Safe at School, Camp Aspire, The Risk Test, research and more. What is harder to put into words is the gift of moments—especially the moments of adult, male, Red Riders (people with diabetes who participate in tour) who interact with Frankie.
These guys may be riding next to Frankie with few words exchanged. It is not the words that matter—it’s the ACTION. An 11 year old with type 1 diabetes-seeing the adult, the grown up, in their own RED RIDER shirt-proving with each pump of the pedal that diabetes has not stopped them. At the rest stops-Frankie sees these guys-the quick check of glucose levels, downing the water and the protein bars, another glucose check-and off again on their bikes-to fly, feel the wind in their faces-unstoppable warriors in the battle against diabetes. Not hiding the glucose check or the insulin dosing—doing what they have to right smack in the middle of a group of people. Role models for a kid with diabetes.
As Mom and Dad, who don’t have diabetes, we can never say “We understand, we know” because we DON’T! We are spectators in this life—doing all we can to support and encourage-but we can’t give Frankie what these men can and do at Tour. These awesome guys in RED can say “Been there, done that, got the RED T-shirt.” The moments of interaction with Frankie-the high fives, the shout outs, and taking the time to talk to him-these guys don’t even realize how much their actions impact the ‘mental side’ of life with diabetes for this 11 year old and all the other kids there too. These guys don’t hear the chatter in the car on the way home… “Mr. Rich rode the 40!” “I rode with Mr. B and we ate at the rest stop!” “Mr Jon was riding!” “Mr. Clark stayed with me the whole ride.” “Did you see HIS bike! He has a meter hooked to it!” On the worst of days—it is these guys in RED, these SUPERMEN, who get Frankie over the hurdles and mountains he has to cross-because he remembers and stays inspired by what he saw at tour –adults-living large in RED. There is a brotherhood between these guys and Frankie. It extends well beyond tour. These guys check in with Frankie throughout the year, coach him in lacrosse, share their stories with him and listen to his.