JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes: “I won’t stop until Type 1 is Type None” | Local News
Michael Crowley calls them “goosebumps moments”.
Cross the bridge to La Crescent. Dipping his bike’s tires in the water off Wildcat Landing. Admire the view from the top of Lafayette Ridge.
Each year, Crowley looks forward to seeing the familiar but always awe-inspiring landmarks as he pedals the 102-mile course of JDRF La Crosse’s Ride To Cure Diabetes. On Saturday, he was joined by some 320 cyclists from Riverside Park, through Minnesota, to Iowa and back to Wisconsin to support people with childhood diabetes.
Crowley has been on Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation fundraising rides for 23 years, the last 11 on the road to La Crosse. Crowley, a JDRF certified trainer for the Ride program and resident of Waukesha, became active with JDRF shortly after his son Andy, now 26, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 2 years.
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Andy has endured nearly 128,000 insulin shots and finger pricks since his diagnosis, and Crowley promised him, “I won’t stop until Type 1 is Type None.”
Over the years, the Crowley family has raised more than $140,000, with a 2022 goal of $2,022. By early Saturday afternoon, it had topped that figure at nearly $2,100. Nationally, La Crosse’s ride was $1.92 million and national funds were nearing $5 million, with four more rides planned this fall and winter in various states.
After two years of riding solo due to the pandemic, Crowley was excited to cycle alongside a group this weekend, and for the economic boost that hundreds of them would bring to the region. In town for four days, cyclists dined at Corky’s Pizza at La Crescent on Friday and stopped at shops and restaurants in downtown La Crosse throughout the weekend.
“Businesses are eagerly waiting for us to come to town,” Crowley said, with many owners still feeling the financial impact of pandemic-related closures and limited staff. “We are able to invade some of the restaurants to help support small businesses.”
The coronavirus crisis, Crowley notes, has also impacted fundraising for some charities and organizations, but the La Crosse Ride to Cure Diabetes has not seen a monetary drop this year. And while attendance was down from pre-pandemic numbers, enthusiasm was just as strong, with runners telling Crowley that the Coulee area road is “their favorite place for a ride”. Riverside Park is “an awesome place to celebrate,” says Crowley, and the scenery and warm welcome can’t be beat.
Prior to the race, Crowley completed about 1,000 training miles, with a one-year goal of 2,022. As a coach, he leads other enrollees in group outings, shooting at least one 80-mile race in preparation for the big day. Now 58, “it’s a little tougher,” Crowley says of the strenuous exercise, but he stresses the ride is “not about miles, it’s about smiles.”
“Our goal for the organization is to make this an amazing experience and get them across the finish line safe and sound and smiling,” Crowley said. “As a coach, our goal is to help them achieve their personal goals, whether it’s miles or fundraising, with an amazing experience to keep them coming back and riding again. Even if they only went a mile, we know they invested in the organization by helping raise funds.”
To donate, visit shorturl.at/aiO79.
In photos: The Great River Road in Wisconsin and Minnesota