RALEIGH, N.C. — Cyclists nationwide are preparing to help raise money for diabetes research.
The 2009 Tour de Cure, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association, will be held June 6-7 across the country.
The Koka Booth Amphitheater at Regency Park in Cary will be the starting point for local racers. There will be four route options, including the Family Fun Ride around Regency Park and a more challenging about 200-mile two-day ride to Pinehurst.
“I have about 30 people who are all committed to riding in this event and helping us out,” said Thomas Henson, of Raleigh, who is a co-captain for the event.
In North Carolina, an estimated 604,000 people have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Because it begins as a silent disease, many people have it and don't know it. Doctors say early diagnosis and treatment can prevent serious complications.
Henson, 44, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 9 years old.
“Basically, I started going to the bathroom a lot, and I was drinking a lot of water,” Henson said. Those symptoms should lead to a doctor visit, experts say.
With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops producing insulin. Type 2 diabetes is often associated with being overweight and inactive.
All diabetics struggle with controlling their blood sugar levels.
“You know, diabetes is one of those things that never leaves your mind. There’s always something you’re doing that can affect something going on inside your body – whether it’s exercise or stress, how you eat, when you eat,” Henson said.
Henson has been able to avoid serious diabetes-related complications, such as heart disease. He carefully monitors his blood sugar levels, and when he's not sitting in a courtroom representing clients as an attorney, he stays active.
“Basically when you exercise, you’re burning sugar,” Henson said. “You keep sugar levels down, and that helps overall.”
Henson said he has waited all his life for better answers for the disease, but he's optimistic.
“A cure is on the horizon, we just need the money to find it,” he said.
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