Like most large gatherings over the past year-plus, the 30th anniversary version of the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure this June will again be virtual. In upstate New York, four markets – Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo – are joining forces for the annual bike race.
WAMC's Jim Levulis spoke with Jeff Collins, the ADA’s Upstate New York executive director, about the event.
Collins: So we're really fortunate that the tour was actually founded down the Thruway in Buffalo, New York. One of our great participants and supporters, Jim Horbowitz brought the idea to the executive team at the American Diabetes Association and said, you know, I think we have something here, a way to really impact the community and support those living with diabetes. And 30 years later, here we are. We have more than 28,000 people from across the country that participate in tour every year. We've raised millions of dollars in Upstate New York alone, thanks to all of our wonderful participants and corporate partners, and we're excited to see what's ahead for us this year.
Levulis: And what will the event look like this year?
Collins: So this year will be a virtual event again. As many people know, those living with diabetes are more susceptible to complications due to COVID-19. Not everyone has had the opportunity to get vaccinated. And we just, we don't want to put anyone at risk and put anyone in harm's way. So we'll be conducting the event virtually again this year, which is a really cool opportunity, because people can ride in their own neighborhoods, they can go to a local park, and you know, manage their comfort level, get together with their team, if they feel like that's something they want to do. But it's a chance to get out, be active and raise awareness and some critical funds during a tough time for all of us.
Levulis: And what did the Association do in regards to the event last year in 2020?
Collins: Yeah, so last year, we were virtual again. I'm really proud of our team, our volunteers and all of our participants across Upstate New York. We pivoted quickly and took the event virtual. So we were working with everyone to, you know, post pictures and videos on social media the day of the event. We were emailing out bibs, that writers can print out and wear day-off and making sure they had all their recognition gifts, their champion jerseys. So, you know, we went virtual. We’ve improved upon it this year, we're excited about some of the changes we have in store and everyone getting together in a virtual capacity on June 12.
Levulis: And what are some of those changes, those improvements going into the second year virtual now?
Collins: Sure, it's a great question. So one of the things that we really are focusing on for this campaign is being active and engaged. So we have a great mobile app that people can download. And it will tie into your fitness tracker. So if you use Apple Health or Google Fit, if you utilize the Strava platform for your workouts, it'll track your miles. So we have a competition going on to see who can rack up the most miles. And we're also really taking a look at our virtual day of events. So we'll be live streaming the morning of, recognizing all of our top participants and our corporate partners, and really highlighting everyone throughout the day, not just on social media, but on our website as well.
Levulis: And is there a specific fundraising goal leading up to the June 12th event?
Collins: Yeah, so our goal, as a region for the Upstate region is $550,000. There is no registration fee or fundraising minimum for participants. So we really encourage everyone, even if you just want to get out there and ride on the day of and support a loved one, a coworker, a friend to go online and register and join us for the tour.
Levulis: And we're speaking here in late April, how far along are you towards that goal?
Collins: So we're at about $130,000 as I look at our website today [April 21], with some great momentum going. We're really thankful for some of our great corporate partners and our teams. Our top team right now is actually the folks from Kivort Steel. So big shout out to them for leading the way right now. But we're confident we're gonna reach that goal. But we would love to have more people join us to support us.
Levulis: And finally, if someone is interested in getting involved with the Tour de Cure 2021, how do they go about doing that?
Collins: Yeah, best thing to do is go to diabetes.org/upstatetour.