Why am I pedaling my bike through Death Valley?

As many of you are already aware, I am joining my husband, Derek, to pedal our bikes 105 miles through Death Valley on Oct. 15, as part of the West Michigan Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's (JDRF) Ride To Cure Diabetes team. Derek is in his second year as a team coach for the fundraising program in our area.

I am riding in honor of a local teenager, Allison. She was diagnosed over 10 years ago at the age of 4 with Juvenile or "Type 1" diabetes. The money we raise goes towards research to find a cure for type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that affects as many as 3 million Americans and sentences sufferers to a lifetime of grave health risks, blood sugar checks multiple times per day, and insulin injections. A cure for this disease would give those afflicted a greater quality of life, reduced stress, and remove the risk of early death from complications associated with diabetes.

Allison spent a lot of her younger years in and out of the hospital, dealing with severe low blood sugars that would put her into full body seizures, to extreme high blood sugars that would require hospitalization. She missed out on a lot of overnight parties with friends, sleep-overs at her grandparents’ houses, and other activities that healthy kids may take for granted.

She is starting her freshmen year in high school in the Fall and has come such a long way in living and dealing with her diabetes. It is still an every day struggle having to check her blood sugar 4-6 times a day, give insulin through her pump when blood sugars are high or any time she eats, check ketones when blood sugars are high, change her pump infusion site (similar to an IV) every 3 days, and manage her blood sugars when she is active.

Despite the every day struggles of living with diabetes, Allison is very athletic. She is in her 2nd year of Irish dance, loves cheerleading, playing tennis, and recently went to Gulf Shores in Alabama for a week with a friend over their Spring Break. She is very involved with band and colorguard and is going to band camp for a week for the first time in August.

Allison’s mother has said “We couldn't be more proud of her and have learned to live with diabetes, but the every day stuggles and worry of this disease NEVER go away. We are encouraged and hopeful that there will be a cure in her liftetime.”

I’m just over halfway to my goal of raising $4,000. Your tax deductable donation can help kids and adults like Allison to look forward to the day when they no longer have to live with the threat of complications and death hanging over their daily existence. I have an online fundraising page where donations can be easily made electronically: jdrf.org/goto/zoomy

I am also able to receive donations via a check made out to JDRF and mailed to me:
Kirsten Dykstra
7996 Bedau
Montague, MI 49437

To see our West MI team in action you can check out this short video - You might recognize the big guy at the 4:10 mark: YouTube video

Please, don't hesitate to ask me more about the JDRF organization and our ride. You can also visit the program’s official website for more information about the ride and about Type 1 diabetes: ride.jdrf.org

Allison’s family, my friends with Juvenile Diabetes, and I so greatly appreciate any help you can give.

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