CUYAHOGA FALLS -- The Tour de Cure event hosted by the American Diabetes Association of Northeast Ohio has already raised $250,000 for diabetes research in the region, according to Melissa Sutton, the event manager.
The annual event leads riders through a bike route as long as 100 miles. However, riders could also bike shorter distances.
The Saturday ride kicked off at the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy on Wyoga Lake Rd. in Cuyahoga Falls.
Participants could also enjoy on-site activities geared towards fun and information about diabetes.
Sutton, who has lived with type one diabetes since she was 9-years-old, says she hopes the ride will combat the stigma the disease faces. "My pancreas stopped working and there's not a darn thing I can do about it," Sutton tells Channel 3's Hilary Golston. "It stops working. So I take it particularly personally when people think it's a lifestyle disease."
According to the ADA, 330,000 people have diabetes in Northeast Ohio. "Red riders" or those living with the disease donned red shirts to denote they have diabetes and are participating in the race.
Riders were asked to raise at least $200 to participate, but some raised much more. 11-year-old Gabe Grizwald was able to rake in $2,000. He's also living with type one diabetes. "I ride for diabetes because it's just a horrible disease to have and it's really just changed my life and I think it helps so much when people ride for us and raise money and it really could lead to a cure," Grizwald tells Golston.
Brian Travalik is Tour de Cure's red rider ambassador. Decked out in a tutu for flare, he not only lives with diabetes, but represents the so-called "red riders." Red riders are those who have diabetes and are also participating in Tour de Cure. "It's a chance to be honored as a hero," Travalik said. "To see other people with diabetes, it's a good feeling to be around that comradery of other people that are dealing with that same disease."
It's not too late to donate to the cause. You can head over to http://main.diabetes.org/site/TR?fr_id=9375&pg=pfind to give.