The 2016 Amelia Island JDRF Ride 4-day weekend started out with a flight from Toronto, Ontario, to Jacksonville, Florida, with a connecting flight in Atlanta, Georgia. It was an early morning flight, and we had a few hours to kill at the Atlanta airport before our connecting flight to Jacksonville. We dropped into a small cafe at the airport for breakfast and sat at a tiny table on a crowded patio with many other patrons awaiting their connecting flights. As we browsed the menus waiting for the waitress to come take our order, I began recalling my doctors appointment I had a few days prior with my endocrinologist. My A1C had gone up slightly and, although my number was still in good range, my doctor insisted on focusing on the fact that it had gone up. For the first time I stood up for myself to my doctor. I work very hard to keep my blood sugar under control so how dare he focus on a slight negative. As a non-type one, he has no idea the effort that goes into managing this disease on a daily basis. I put him in his place. As I was explaining the story to my mom, a lady sitting at the table next to us who I didn’t realize had been listening the entire time chimed in at the end saying, “Good for you! My daughter is also type one, and it’s a lot of work. You’re doing great!” At first I was blown away at the fact that we are on our way to Florida to ride our bikes for T1D and someone coincidentally sitting next to us at the cafe (who is not there headed to ride weekend) also had a connection to type one. We continued a brief conversation with this woman sharing a few personal stories about our battles and successes with type one. It was an encouraging and enlightening conversation. I try to talk about type one everywhere I go for moments like these that fill my heart with hope and empowerment and remind me that I am never alone in this battle.
This was just the start of ride weekend. Throughout the next four days, I met a ton of other individuals who I exchanged stories with. For me, this is what ride weekend is about. A community coming together and empowering one another. We understand each other’s struggles and provide a sense of reassurance that you’re going to be okay, and you’re not alone. Although I do love ride weekend for the fact that it fundraises a ton of money (Amelia Island ride weekend alone raised $3 million for JDRF!) for research to find a cure, technology for better management and prevention, and also because I simply love bike riding, but I think the main reason I continue to do these rides is because of the community and connections it builds. With the T1D community, there is hope for a future without T1D.