GOODYEAR – Gary Hinton crossed the 56-mile mark at the finish line, joining hundreds of other cyclists pedaling furiously toward a goal that extended beyond the end of the bike race – raising money to treat and, eventually cure, diabetes.
As sweat poured down his face, a smiling Hinton explained why he biked for the annual fundraiser, known as Tour de Cure.
“I’m not a research chemist, I can’t sit at home and figure out how this works, but you know what? I can fundraise and I can do my part this way,” said Hinton, who rode to represent family and friends with diabetes. “It does take resources to find any source of quality care, or a cure. It’s not going to happen just because someone snaps their fingers.”
Nearly 650 cyclists on Saturday rode 5.6 miles, 23 miles or 56 miles on a loop that began and ended at Goodyear Ballpark, said Nichole Brown, associate director of development for the Arizona and New Mexico office of the American Diabetes Association. They raised nearly $585,000 to battle diabetes, according to the association website.
Diabetes, characterized by elevated blood-sugar levels, can lead to damage to the heart and other organs and tissue. The two most common forms are Type 1, caused by a genetic mutation, and the more prevalent Type 2. Weight and activity levels can lead to problems but family history, age and race also play a role, experts say. More than 1 in 10 Americans are affected by diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People of color, particularly in the American Indian, Alaska Native, Black, Hispanic, and Asian American communities, are more commonly diagnosed with diabetes. People who have lower income and lower levels of education are also at a higher risk of being diagnosed with diabetes, says the CDC.
“When you think about barriers to care, affordability is a barrier,” said Terri Wiggins, senior vice president for health equity for the national diabetes association. “If I have to decide whether I’m going to pay my rent or take my medicine, that’s a terrible decision to have to make.”
Life-saving insulin for years has come with a hefty price tag. In late 2022, Congress passed the the Inflation Reduction Act, which capped insulin prices at $35 a month for Medicare recipients. Eli Lilly, one of the top providers of the drug, announced March 1 that it has capped all patients’ monthly out-of-pocket cost at $35.
The Goodyear event centered around families and healthy living – from the bike ride to showcase the importance of exercise to a booth where people could pick up free, fresh fruits and vegetables.
As kids jumped around in a bouncy castle, families could eat snacks and drink beer and other beverages.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona also recognized the diabetes association’s efforts to create a fun and informative event by setting up an area for event attendees to speak to the health insurer’s team about the importance of finding affordable health care.
Eric Marcus, an administrator for the insurer for the company and a Type 1 diabetic, rode in the bike race.
“It creates awareness, it creates education and it brings people together for an important cause,” he said.