JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes founded here 20 years ago

Russ Vester and daughter Hannah, who has raised close to $120,000 for JDRF Ride to Cure and is Type 1), riding in Death Valley.

Russ Vester and daughter Hannah, who has raised close to $120,000 for JDRF Ride to Cure and is Type 1), riding in Death Valley.

Friday, June 23, dinner, Voice of America Park
Saturday, June 24, ride, Payne Recreation Center, Moraine

In the mid- to late ’90s, a group of ambitious cycling enthusiasts gathered in Blue Ash to organize the first ride to raise money to cure type 1 diabetes.

Those early events raised about $10,000 each year and grew to become a “destination ride program,” where locally based riders would train together here, then travel to a site somewhere else in the country to embark on a 100-mile ride.

In 1997, 17 riders participated in the first Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation destination ride, training in Cincinnati while fundraising for JDRF, then traveling together to Death Valley National Park in California. They rode at night to avoid the scorching desert heat.

Since its beginnings as a modest nonprofit event, the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes program has become a national phenomenon, with seven annual destination ride locations, raising more than $38 million in total for JDRF.

This year, JDRF Southwest Ohio will celebrate the two-decade mark with the 20th Anniversary Ride Dinner at Voice of America Park on Friday, June 23. The dinner will include a tribute to the “original 17” riders and will feature a presentation by JDRF International CEO Derek Rapp. The next day, Saturday, June 24, the chapter will host a 20th Anniversary Ride at the Payne Recreation Center in Moraine.

“That first year after launching the Death Valley Ride, we raised over $100,000. Today, it is a multimillion-dollar annual event that benefits JDRF nationally,” said Dan Schimberg, one of the original riders.

JDRF is the world’s leading funder for type 1 diabetes research, and each year the Southwest Ohio chapter, which covers 43 counties in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, raises more than $3.4 million.

“We have the largest JDRF ride team in the country, and last year our chapter achieved a new national fundraising record for ride. We’re on track to do so again in 2017, and it would be amazing, and symbolic, if we could hit another record in the same year in which we celebrate the ride’s 20-year anniversary,” said Melissa Newman, JDRF Southwest Ohio executive director. “Our riders are passionate not only about cycling, but also about doing whatever it takes to find a cure for type 1 diabetes.”

As many as 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, nearly 31,000 of whom live in the southwest Ohio region.


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