Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sam Seriously Sweating: A Hard Way to Raise Money

Andrew Benzinger, 4,
Type-1 Diabetic
If you would like to donate to help find a cure for type-1 diabetes please click HERE

(This single click takes you to my fund-raising page.  There, click again on "donate to this event."  Then click "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

Today I wanted to mention a few individuals who spent the last week lugging boxes and moving donated furniture for the First Annual Oakley Masonic Lodge Rummage Sale, all profits to go to JDRF.

Many years ago, Sam Benzinger was a young man in my history class.  Today he's a grandfather with a grandson, Andrew, 4, with type-1 diabetes.  I think Sam would admit he used to be a hell-raiser when he was a boy (not that I ever had to give him any punishments, no matter what he might try to tell you today).  Now Mr. Benzinger is a fund raiser, involved in all kinds of great charity causes.  He and his girlfriend, Samantha Tipton, seem to look out for every human being with a problem they can possibly find; and I'm honored to know them.

This past weekend, when it was broiling hot, they were sitting under a tent awning, counting up $1,000 that will go towards a JDRF donation.  They had other help, too.  Samantha's son and girlfriend were there, both still smiling, but sweating.  So was Jason Durbin, age 33, a type-1 diabetic and family man himself.


Jason and Evan Durbin

Jason takes good care of his disease; but he wants to be there to see his young son Evan graduate from college, get married and start his own family, then see his own grand children.  So we need to find a cure for this lifetime disease.

There's no way of knowing when that's going to come or what advances we will see in the medical field.  But I know a few people who were working last week to raise money and make that dream come true sooner rather than later.

I think bicycling to raise money is easy, compared to raising a young son and dealing with your diabetes issues while you do it.  So hats off to Jason.  And I have a suspiscion you'll see Sam and Samantha hard at work next year again.




Sam and Samantha like to do Renaissance Fairs and there befriended a young lady in a wheelchair.
You'll be happy to know they I.D.ed in the 1400s, too.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Pete and Sandy Chronis Organize a Memorial Day Ride

If you would like to donate to help find a cure for type-1 diabetes please click HERE

(This single click takes you to my fund-raising page.  There, click again on "donate to this event."  Then click "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

Matt Westendorf
Future Endocrinologist?
Yesterday was a good day to get psyched up to ride across the country and raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund.  In the morning, I rode the "Square-to-Square" ride organized by Pete and Sandy Chronis of Glendale, Ohio.  Pete and Sandy have a daughter who is type-1 and they've been involved in fund-raising work for many years, including riding the JDRF event in Death Valley for many years. 

The Memorial Day ride they put together ever year is a great chance to bicycle with nice people, half of whom have or are raising money for JDRF.  So you're in good company no matter who you ride beside.

This year there were more than a hundred bicyclers involved.

A good part of the morning I pedaled with Debbie Westendorf, whose son Matt has been a type-1 diabetic since he was two.

Debbie, herself,  is getting ready to run a marathon in Ireland in September.  (So she has no trouble keeping up with me.)  Her son Aaron is a good friend of my daughter Emily; and we know him well, and I tell his mom what a great young man he is.  You can tell she's proud of both of her boys, and for good reason.  We turn to discussion of JDRF and Matt, who will be a senior at Princeton High next year.  (And we keep our eyes open for potholes and cars back.)  He's a very strong student, diabetes and all, and may go into the medical field in college because of his interest in health-related issues and science.  Debbie tells me about the time when Matt first got sick.  She came into the kitchen and there he was, sound asleep on the floor.

It makes you sad, a little, to think of Matt when he was a toddler--and all the other kids who turn up diabetic every day--then you see what these guys do despite a faulty pancreas, and you have to be impressed.  Matt is a good enough student to consider becoming an endocrinologist some day, and works at Bob Evans in Sharonville if you ever need a good breakfast.  This summer he'll be spending a week as counselor at Camp Korelitz, working with young diabetic kids.

So, thanks to people like Pete and Sandy, and Sam Benzinger and Samantha Tipton (I'll post their story tomorrow), there are all kinds of people working for a cure today.

Andrew Taylor Benzinger
Sam's young grandson, Andrew, is shown at right.

Like Matt, like my daughter Emily, Andrew is hoping for a cure.

If you would like to donate to help find a cure for type-1 diabetes please click HERE

(This single click takes you to my fund-raising page.  There, click again on "donate to this event."  Then click "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Donation from the Tooth Fairy


Sidney has a great heart.
Not so much on the pancreas.

Until recently, I had a glitch in my fund-raising page and I was getting donations and couldn't tell where they were coming from.  So I owe some belated "thank you's" to various people and will get those out soon.

I feel honored by every donation, however, small and I'm glad former students are donating.  You know, they could be sending hate mail.  (Just so they don't use the words "things" or "stuff."  One of my favorite donations comes from Sidney S., the 7-year-old girl from Bozeman, Montana and type-1 diabetic I met while doing a practice ride in Florida in February.  I'm already riding in her name; but she decided to help out by donating all the money she's received so far from the Tooth Fairy.

I wish all of you could meet this sweet young lady. 

I'd pedal to the moon if we could cure diabetes.




By now, some of you know my plan is to pedal out of Acadia National Park on or around June 16.  I'll be going through New Hampshire, Vermont, the Adirondack area and may head down toward West Point, where a high school friend of mine teaches.

I plan to skirt below Lake Ontario and across northern Ohio, maybe stopping in Akron, where I grew up, and then aim south to Cincinnati.  My wife Anne and I are headed for a wedding on Cape Cod, July 16.  So that means taking a week out of my ride.  Then it's back to Cincinnati and head west.

If I'm feeling good about bicycling across America, I may try to go over Rocky Mountain National Park and then head north to Yellowstone, then bend south again.  All I know for sure is I plan to go through Yosemite on the way to the Pacific coast.



If you would like to donate to help find a cure please click HERE

(This will take you to my fund-raising page.  Click on "donate to this event."  Then click "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."


Friday, May 27, 2011

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cluster Training Regimen

Yeah, I'm getting ready to start my ride across the country.  I will be leaving from Acadia National Park on June 16.  Right now, I am riding pretty well, and I'm a little thinner than when I started my cross-country ride in 2007.

I'd be doing better if I didn't come back from my rides and dig into the jar of Chocolate Macadamia Nut Clusters.  Maybe I can get a candy company to sponsor my trip or donate to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

If they won't, you can.

If you would like to donate to help find a cure please click HERE

(This will take you to my fund-raising page.  Click on "donate to this event."  Then click "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Alyssa Heal: Cheerful and Cheering

If you would like to donate to help find a cure for Alyssa and Ben and all the other type-1 diabetics please click HERE!  (This will take you to my fund-raising page.  Click on "donate to this event."  Then click "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

Tonight I had the pleasure of talking to Ms. Alyssa Heal.  Alyssa sounds on the phone like she looks in this photo (left) with her dad John.  She sounds cheerful.

Her dad says she's cheerful.  So does her grandmother.  And Alyssa admits she is cheerful.  Talking to her turns out to be my pleasure.

Ms. Heal is 13-years old, a 7th grader at Loveland Middle School, a very strong student, a cheerleader, both competitively and next year for the school, and a type-1 diabetic.

But Alyssa doesn't let the disease define her, just as her dad says:  "If you met Alyssa, you’d never know she was diabetic (unless you saw her insulin pump)."  

 Alyssa has never met me when she gets on the phone to answer my questions; but there's a smile in her voice, just like the smile you see at right.  I have the same impression after I talk to her I had after talking to Noelle Fletcher:  "This young lady has her act together."

Alyssa tells me about herself.  This year her favorite teacher is Ms. Schreck for science.  "She seems to have everything organized, which makes it easier for me to understand," is how the young lady explains it.  Alyssa isn't bragging when she says this:  but admits she has a 102 average in science. 

Alyssa has always wanted to be a teacher.  In second grade she and a cousin used to play school; but  Alyssa was serious.  She presented mock lessons to neighborhood kids, used a computer to make attendance sheets and even letters "signed" by parents and set up learning centers for her "students" to use.  (Later, one of her grade school teachers used some of her learning center ideas in her own class.  How cool is that!)

What else does Ms. Heal reveal in conversation?  She laughs a little when I ask her about boys but says she hasn't got her eye on anyone.  She played soccer for six years and she's been cheering for one.  She doesn't "like going to school," she laughs a little, "but I want to get into a good college and I don't want to be poor."  So she studies and works hard and adds that she'd still want to learn even if she didn't have to go to school.  Her only real problem is that she doesn't like getting up early.

She likes going to Kings Island, enjoys movies and reading Harry Potter (and she's anxious to see the next movie in the series this summer).  She has two dogs, a bunny, and "a really fuzzy cat." In fac,there isn't anything she doesn't like.  So I ask if she has any weaknesses or bad habits.  She thinks a moment, gives a little laugh again, and says, "Well....I love candy and I have to pull myself away."  Dad adds that she loves chocolate.  "It's her kryptonite."

Finally, we turn to diabetes.  "It seems like if you weren't a diabetic, your life would be great," I say; and she agrees.  She remembers the day she found out:  "I wasn't scared.  I was kind of in shock.  I didn't think it could happen to me.  I'd see commercials about these bad diseases, and think 'That would really stink,' but diabetes was for old people."  She says she might have cried once but she doesn't think she ever did.  "You get used to it," she says with a maturity beyond her thirteen years.  "You have to.  It's not going away."

I ask her at last, what she might say to a classmate who turned up with type-1 diabetes next year.  At first, she says, "You're on your own buddy."  Then Alyssa becomes serious.  "No...really...I'd say don't freak out.  It seems like a habit to me now.  You'll get used to it.  It get's easier."  So that's what Alyssa has done.  She gets used to it.  She deals.  She has the pump and that helps.  Her mom is good tracking carbs and insulin ratios, her dad helps her change her sites, because she doesn't like to and wants to look away.  But Alyssa stays upbeat and deals with all the problems and worries with a poise unusual in someone her age.

It stinks being a diabetic.  Alyssa knows that.  My daughter Emily knows it.  Matt Westendorf, at Princeton Jr. High knows it and so does Tom Youkilis, who lives down the street from me in Glendale.  So do 30,000 new type-1 diabetics every year.  But It's obvious when you talk Alyssa--just one of those diabetics--that she has a positive outlook today and a positive outlook about the future.  So she keeps moving foward, cheerful and cheering.

I taught in Loveland a long time and worked with more than five thousand teens (including Alyssa's dad and aunts Jackie and Joanna). 

I can often sense how kids are going to do in the future and I'm going to make a bold prediction:  I think Alyssa Heal is going to be one heck of a teacher.

Ben Wilson: The Man, HImself

If you would like to donate to help find a cure for Ben and other type-1 diabetics please click HERE

Then click on: "donate to this event."  Then click on "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

Then click your heels three times and call for Aunty Em.

The photographer himself.

The Viall family has known Ben Wilson for many years. 

And the Viall family is duly impressed.

If you live in Glendale, Ohio you've seen Ben around, since he moved her when he was a young boy.  As far as anyone we know knows, Ben has always been a kind-hearted, inquisitive, creative fellow ever when little.

Ben is now living in Colorado (and living with diabetes), attending the University of Colorado at Denver and working on a degree in film.  He has a couple of short pieces on YouTube if you search:  Twinkle Fitz.  It's a whimsical nickname, which is what Ben is like, himself. 

Check out his work now and you'll be able to say, "I knew him before he was famous."

Ben has been diabetic half of his life, diagnosed just before Christmas in 1997.  His mother, Robyn Carey, was in China with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (she did publicity; she's not a musician) when Ben's symptoms first stared to manifest.  By the time she got home, young Mr. Wilson had headed downtown to play Rudolph in a Christmas play and when she saw him he was already in costume and she couldn't tell how much weight he had lost.  He explained that he was constantly hungry.  So:  she gave him a Payday.

Of course, when you're a diabetic, and people don't yet know it, that doesn't help.

That was on the weekend; and by Monday, Ben had to come to her and say, "Mom, I can't even pick up my bookbag."  Now she was sure something was wrong and a trip to Childrens Hospital confirmed it.  Ben was the first type-1 diabetic in the family.

Ben's story is a little scary at times--and this is why we need to be working to find a cure, and why JDRF is such a great cause.  When he was a teen, he didn't always take care of himself, so his mom was constantly worrying.  The day he went to get his permanent driver's license was typical of the added problems diabetics face.  Ben had already taken the test for his temporary permit.  But where the box said:  Do you have any handicaps? he marked "no."

He remembered them saying at the hospital he could do anything he wanted in life.  So he figured, rightly, OK, I'm fine.  I don't have a handicap.

Now, on his permanent license application the question was worded differently and he told the DMV people he had type-1 diabetes.  Well then:  you can't get your license.  You have to have a letter from your doctor first, confirming that you are healthy enough to drive.

For a young man, already unhappy about having to deal with counting carbs, carrying supplies, sticking himself with needles, and all the other difficulties that go with a lifelong disease, this was like adding insult to daily injury. 

It's one of the few times you'd probably see Ben mad.

Ben graduated from Princeton High School and went on to Ohio University but still wasn't sure what he wanted to do, so he dropped out.  His story gets scary after he leaves college.  Now he's not on his mom or dad's health insurance and he isn't making tons of money.  So he lets his daily care slide.  He can't tell you what his a1c counts were.  He doesn't know.  He had tingling in his feet and circulation problems.  He didn't see an endocrinologist for five years; and naturally his mom worried and worried.

Still:  this is a creative thinker young man and Ben has a lot of talents.  He was a fine swimmer at Princeton and now headed for Beaufort, South Carolina where he coached elementary kids on a swim team.  Here, his big-hearted personality (and he's a big guy, too), paid off and the kids absolutely loved him.  I talked to him at Christmas in 2009 and he was thinking about going back to school and getting a degree in education.  I told him that there was no doubt in my mind he'd be good.

It's too bad--for teaching--that he decided he had to pursue his passions:  photography and film, and that's what he's doing now.  Here are a few samples:




Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ben Wilson: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Today's "featured type-1 diabetic" is Ben Wilson, son of Robin Carey of Glendale.  Ben has been diabetic for exactly half of his life, diagnosed in 1997, when he was only fourteen.

There's a lot to say about Ben:  my family knows him as a kind, empathetic, funny young man; and his mom calls him "big-hearted."

I'm going to stick to showing you a few pictures Ben has taken recently, since he's a talent photographer.  And I will post a story about him, in detail, probably tomorrow.

His pictures speak for him and show his whimsical nature:


The photographer himself.

Tree in black and white.
Definitely a dangersous crossing.


Night light.

Shadow on water.

If you would like to donate to help find a cure for Ben and other type-1 diabetics please click HERE

Then click on: "donate to this event."  Then click on "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

Then click your heels three times and call for Aunty Em.

Howie's cone of shame.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Fat Pink Sausage Labeled "Ride for a Cure"

Yesterday, I noticed the Facebook page "Ride for a Cure" asked us to post pictures of any training rides we are doing.  (For those of you who don't know, JDRF in Cincinnati helps organize bike rides in places like Burlington, Vermont, LaCrosse, Wisconsin and Death Valley (in the winter).

I thought about taking a couple of pictures on my 46-mile ride, but decided to wait until I lost a little more weight.  I was wearing the same pink and yellow bicycling shirt I wore in 2007, when I posed on the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado (see blog header above).  I'm glad I waited, because one look would have reduced visits to my site by 50%.

If that shirt had been any tighter it would have been a tourniquet.  So let's just say, I have some pounds to shed.

As always, I'll be riding for my daughter Emily, and now for Ben Wilson, as well.  Ben grew up in Glendale and I'll do a post on him soon.  For now, trust me when I say he's a talented photographer, and studying film in Colorado.  He's also a good young man, kind-hearted, funny and empathetic.

Last night Bill Rice from JDRF Cincinnati and I talked to the members of the Masonic Lodge of Oakley about raising money for the cause.  Sam Benzinger, whose grandson Andrew is type-1, hosted and provided pizza.

I should have passed on that third piece, I admit it.  Right now, when I wear that old jersey I look like a fat, pink sausage labeled "Ride for a Cure."  But I'll be in shape.

I always keep my word:  You donate $4 and I'll ride the 4,000 miles.


 If you would like to donate to help find a cure please click HERE!  Click on "donate to this event."  Then click on "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."





I'm riding for Sidney S., age 7, shown hugging (I think) her brother Sam.



I'm riding for Emily, shown at about age 3, with mud on her hands (she thought she might  be in trouble).

Lobsters Must Die

If you would like to donate to help find a cure please click HERE!  Click on "donate to this event."  Then click on "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

I'm sorry, I haven't been posting much lately.  So let me show you again, some of the people, I'm riding for this summer.  I will be starting from Acadia National Park in Maine on or about June 16.  I will pedal west to California, raising money for JDRF all the way.

Emily Viall, in the days before she was a type-1 diabetic.

Lauren Lemmon (left); now a type-1 diabetic.


Sidney S. a type-1 diabetic who loves her mother.


Katie Rogers with dad; an artistic type-1 young lady.

Joel McElfrish (type-1) and still laughing.

Kyle Williams, type-1 and scuba diving.

I'm not going to lie:  Before I start pedaling 4,000 miles to raise money for JDRF, a few lobsters in Maine must die.
If you would like to donate to help find a cure please click HERE!  Click on "donate to this event."  Then click on "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

Monday, May 9, 2011

Riding for Juvenile Diabetes: Beware of the Goose and the Squirrel

If you would like to donate to help find a cure please click HEREClick on "donate to this event."  Then click on "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

Donate $4 and I promise to ride 4,000 miles.

Emily Viall, type-1 diabetic, at age 3 (above).

Now that the weather is turning sunny, I can get my bicycle out and rack up some decent miles.  Today, I managed to log 77.  Right now, I feel pretty good about riding across our great country.  I'm six pounds lighter than when I started last time. 

Then again, I'm also four years older.

Still, it was great to be out in the fresh air this afternoon and even though I'm 62, I'm not so old I can't still learn something.  At the 73 mile mark, I learned that a goose can be stupid.  I was whipping along at a healthy clip, using the sidewalk not far from the Blue Ash Airport.

Two geese were close to the walk.  So I yelled to alert them to my coming.  One scuttled out of the way but the other seemed perplexed.  (Can a goose be perplexed?)  At the very last moment this dim-witted fowl skittered across the sidewalk and I rammed into it with my front tire.  The bird went flying one way and I went flying (winglessly) the other. 

Luckily, I landed on a grassy hillside and neither the goose nor I was injured.

This is probably a stupid pun:  but I learned today that you should honk at a goose before the goose honks at you.

AFTER POSTING THE ABOVE TO FACEBOOK, I RECIEVED SEVERAL COMMENTS:

Liz Ball went with the cheesy pun, herself, saying, I should "have ducked."

Vicky Leroy Busby displayed a little goose animosity:  "Ha! Was it one of those Canadian geese? If so, you should've run over the blasted thing. How those birds were ever on the endangered species list is beyond me. They're everywhere and many of them are too stupid to migrate."

My brother Tim weighed in with warning:  "John: By the way; Joe Ossman took his worst fall when (on the American River Bike Trail) he had a squirrel run into his front wheel, get partially caught, and, locked his wheel when said squirrel made a 1/2 revolution. So, watch both geese and squirrels!"

       Joe's a good man.  I've ridden with him before...and he went coast-to-coast last summer with Rich Fowler.  So if a squirrel can get Joe, I know they can get me.

Liz commented once more:  "Oooh I witnessed something like that at a kids' bike race in Ann Arbor. A squirrel ran into a kid's spokes and was fragmented before the crowds.  The kid didn't even know what happened except his wheels made a funny noise and the crowd made a group 'ooooooooooooo'..."

So:  be careful out there bicyclers.  I'm going riding today, hopefully at least 50 miles.  Depends on the wild life, I suppose.

If you would like to donate to help find a cure please click HEREThen click "donate to this event."  Finally, click "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

Donate $4 and I promise to ride 4,000 miles.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Emily Viall: My Type-1 Daughter Turns 21

Sometimes, I consider myself awfully lucky.  I have a daughter who is a type-1 diabetic; but she's pretty and smart and two out of three isn't bad.  Emily has been a diabetic since 2005.

So I'm going to bicycle across the USA again to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund.

If you would like to donate to help find a cure please click HEREClick on "donate to this event."  Then click on "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

Donate $4 and I promise to ride 4,000 miles.

This is Emily.  She's studying nursing at Ohio State and hopes to be a nurse/diabetic counselor some day.


































I'm riding for Sidney, too, age 7, type-1 diabetic for two years.



















I'm riding for Adam Kavka, a Loveland High School graduate now studying at Ohio State (below).


I'm riding for the 83 Americans who will turn up as type-1 diabetics today.

If you would like to donate to help find a cure please click HEREClick on "donate to this event."  Then click on "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Five Hundred More Type-1 Diabetics

If you would like to donate to help find a cure please click HEREClick on "donate to this event."  Then click on "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

Donate $4 and I promise to ride 4,000 miles.


Since I last posted, six days ago, another 500 Americans have been diagnosed as type-1 diabetics.  Sometime in mid-June, I will begin my bicycle ride across the United States, to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund.

It is my goal to do my little part to help end this disease.

I will ride 4,000 miles.  I hope I can find people who are willing to donate $4.  The petrified wood below was given to me my a Sidney S., a 7-year-old diabetic when I said I'd ride for her this summer.



Left:  my daughter Emily gives herself an insulin shot in 2007.  It's just one of MANY.























If you would like to donate to help find a cure please click HEREClick on "donate to this event."  Then click on "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."

Donate $4 and I promise to ride 4,000 miles.