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Community Blog

Taking the Ride for Juvenile Diabetes

Authored by
Posted on August 24, 2016
Filed under Community

On August 13, Melissa Kampmann rode in the  Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Ride to Cure Diabetes. The 100 mile route started in La Crosse, Wisconsin and moved through stretches of Minnesota and Iowa, circling back to La Crosse.  More than 350 riders rode to raise money for a cure to type 1 diabetes (T1D), of those riders 53 have T1D.  JDRF hosted several rides throughout the United States in the hopes of raising $8 – 10 million for clinical trial research.  80% of the funds raised goes towards research while 20% goes to offset fundraising, promotion, and administrative costs.

Melissa trained for 23 weeks in order to participate in the ride.  Training wasn’t just about getting in shape, it was also about learning how to balance her medications with the nutrition needed for energy.  Managing her blood sugar isn’t as simple as taking medication and eating the right foods.  Managing her health is a careful balancing act because blood sugars are significantly affected by exercise, air temperature, humidity, hydration, stress, hormones, food, and as Melissa says the flight patterns of the monarch butterflies.   Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the pancreas which produces insulin, the hormone that converts the food we eat into energy.  Over her 23 weeks of training, Melissa spent a lot of time working with a coach to determine how much medication to take and what types of food would provide her with energy and electrolytes but not raise her blood sugars significantly.  Through a lot of frustration over the 23 weeks, Melissa learned that there was a reason only 53 diabetics were daring enough to take on the challenge.

Nearly her entire family was there to cheer her on.  When asked why she did it, Melissa comments, “When I was Community Blog MSK with family at JDRF ride IMG_2890.jpgdiagnosed 27 years ago, I was told not to do certain things-do not have children, do not exercise for more than an hour, do not put yourself in stressful situations.  Shockingly, I didn’t listen and I’m proud to say that I’ve done everything I have ever wanted to do and I’ve done it safely and I’m healthy.  My daughter was diagnosed at age 5, five years ago.  I have always told her to never let her disease stand in the way and I wanted to show Makenna that even diabetics can take on something extreme like riding 100 miles, we just need to do it differently to stay safe.”

Going into the ride, many heard Melissa comment this would be her first and last time.  But, since, Melissa’s not too sure.  “It was a special, emotional weekend that I will never forget.  The camaraderie and the cause are so great, I just might do it again.”  And soon, Makenna will be able to join her mom in making a difference, by participating in the ride.