Ride for a Cure: Andrew’s Story


In 2023, I decided to throw caution—and frankly, common sense—to the wind by signing up for my very first Breakthrough T1D ride in Burlington, Vermont. Now, for those of you thinking, “What a noble endeavor!” let me be clear: I was motivated by a mix of philanthropic spirit and hubris. I had become a Peloton enthusiast over the pandemic and thought that riding 100 miles would be an “easy” way to help out an amazing cause so near and dear to my hear. The size of the fundraising goal initially had me sweating more than any Peloton session ever did. But as it turned out, the Greater Delaware Valley Chapter had my back, and my initial dread turned into something resembling optimism.

My son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes right before the world decided to take an extended pause thanks to COVID. Finding a way to contribute to the T1D community was something that I felt I needed to do, as the world came out of the pandemic. My wife discovered the Breakthrough T1D ride program at the Breakthrough T1D Greater Delaware Valley Chapter’s T1D summit in 2022, but I was comfortable in my role as an indoor Peloton enthusiast. The idea of actually riding 100 miles on the rust piece of iron sitting in my garage in the great outdoors was something I felt I wasn’t ready for in 2022. But hey, I love a challenge—especially one that lets me wear spandex without judgment and so I decided 2023 was going to be the year! We picked Burlington as our destination and made it into a week long family vacation that culminated in the ride.


About that training… Let’s just say my confidence was high, and my actual preparedness was… well, let’s not go there. Most of my training involved me shouting encouragements at myself while pedaling furiously in the safety of my garage. The hills of Burlington were a rude awakening for someone who considered the slight incline of my driveway to be “challenging terrain.” If the ride had been 30 miles or an hour long, I would have been in a great place. My suggestion is to make sure that you are out on the road on longer rides, even if your pace is casual. Simply increasing the length of time that you are comfortable on a bike seat will pay dividends on ride day. This coming year, I will be sure spend much more time outdoors and I know that with the support of my chapter’s coaches, there will be ample opportunities to get out on guided rides in the safety of numbers on the windy Pennsylvania roads.

The day started off as a picture-perfect day, only to end with me questioning my life choices in a downpour. I woke up with a smile on my face. The anticipation had been building during the months of fundraising and watching the sun rise over Lake Champlain while I was getting ready had me feeling very fulfilled. The first part of the ride was amazing, riding through downtown Burlington, picturesque neighborhoods, and through quiet, forested areas. My first leg culminated at a rest stop manned by my overly enthusiastic family, who must have believed they were supporting a Tour de France contender rather than a middle-aged man in lycra (at least that’s what I decided to tell myself!). They were manning a rest stop a little over a third of the way through the ride and just after the steepest hill I have ever climbed on a bike in my life. At that point, I felt fantastic! Pumped up by my family’s enthusiasm, full of endorphins and possibly a cookie or two, I hopped back on my bike with a group of very seasoned riders who set off at a punishing pace.

Halfway through, I hit a wall—metaphorically speaking. I “bonked”. I had gone out too hard, too fast, and was paying the price. If not for the kindness of a fellow rider, Shawn Powell from the Alabama chapter, who I’m convinced was sent from the cycling gods, I might still be out there, pedaling in vain. He stayed with me the entire brutal ride back and pulled me through to the end.

The whole ride was wave after wave of positivity, enthusiasm, support, and love. It was an amazing experience that words simply do not do justice. What struck me most, though, was the sea of T1D jerseys. It was a powerful reminder that we were all there for something bigger than just a bike ride. It was humbling, inspiring, and made every muscle ache worth it.

Post-ride, I was on a high (no, not from the energy gels). The event was an inspiration. I decided I wanted to be more than a casual supporter and told Ellen Cohn, our local ride staff lead,  that I was all in for whatever came next. Fast forward, and I’m looking for as many possibilities to help support my local chapter while prepping for a ride in Amelia Island, Florida. If only it was sooner! December seems so far away.

In wrapping up this tale of sweat, gears, and philanthropy, let me say this: supporting Breakthrough T1D has been an adventure of the best kind. It’s taught me a lot about diabetes, about community, and about how many energy bars one can consume before it’s considered excessive. If you’ve ever thought about doing something a little crazy for a good cause, this is your sign. Dive in, the water’s fine—though, in my case, it was more like the road was wet. And to those who might follow in my slightly wobbly tire tracks, know this: it’s an incredible ride, both literally and metaphorically. Join us, donate, or just spread the word. Every bit helps in the fight against T1D, and who knows? You might just find your own version of fun in the process.