Welcome to week two of my 2,500 mile bike ride I call Cycling for Good. This week I’m riding in honor of Barry Falcon and his quest to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. You’ll learn about Barry and his family, and you’ll have a chance to make a difference, too.
Meet Barry Falcon and His Family
I met Barry Falcon through my running group when he was training for his first marathon in 2012 at age 60. Barry was quickly a friend to everyone in the group – always ready to slow down a bit on long runs to keep a running friend company who was having a bad day or speed up if someone needed a push. A cyclist, Barry often takes runner friends under his wing and encourages them to bike. His positive attitude is infectious – a bad day rolls over and off him without a visible ripple.
From the outside looking in, Barry is part of a typical American family. After growing up in New York City and a stint in Los Angeles, Barry moved to Atlanta and has had a successful career in manufacturing and entrepreneurship. He and his wife Lori have three children – Stephanie, Michael and Brian.
The Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis
In 2002, however, a visit to the doctor changed their life forever when Michael was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (T1D).
Barry admits that he could barely even spell the word diabetes, let alone know anything about living with it at the time of Michael’s diagnosis. Since then, the Falcon family has been by Michael’s side keeping him healthy and in check. Barry points out that “this is a family disease, and my wife Lori has been the guiding angel for Michael since the first day with T1D. Monitoring blood sugars, careful nutrition and watching for highs and lows is a full time job.” Above all, the family is always there for love and support. They have helped Michael count carbs, made him meals in the middle of the night, given him blood sugar reminders, and, most importantly, given him much needed hugs along the way. Today, Michael is 25 and has a great career at GE Capital after graduating from The Ohio State University. He takes the disease seriously and works hard to maintain a healthy blood sugar level, yet has never let it stop him from living a full and successful life.
Barry’s Fight to Find a Cure
From a profound sense of sadness and a bit of anger came an inspiration to fight. And, since the day Michael was diagnosed with T1D, Barry has been dedicated to raising money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), a non-profit group that raises awareness and funds for research. Barry’s life has become a non-stop race to fight against the disease that affects his life so closely. His finish line is not a medal or a banner to run through; it’s a cure!
Barry was new to the JDRF scene in fall 2002 as he participated in the first Walk to Cure Diabetes. He learned of other ways to show support for those that are challenged every day to live with T1D, have fun and raise much needed funds. In 2004, Michael and Barry flew to Monterey, California, to participate in their first JDRF Ride to Cure.
Since that first ride, Barry has participated in 32 Ride to Cure events. He has also participated in two Hope on 2 Wheels events, where participants ride over 225 miles in one day from Boston to New Jersey. Barry says that riding a bike that far is simple compared to what Michael faces each day.
Barry has also completed 10 marathons, including the Dopey Challenge: 48.6 miles over four days. He has run the Boston Marathon twice, the New York City Marathon and the Dopey Challenge all under the JDRF banner. It’s about finding a cure with the funds he raises on these challenging events.
To date, Barry has walked, run or biked more than 5,000 total miles and raised more than $350,000 to support JDRF. And he’s not stopping. This year, after completing the Dopey Challenge, he also plans to ride in Lake Tahoe and Nashville, and participate in the One Walk in Atlanta.
In his fight to find a cure, Barry has also made lifelong friends. “The JDRF rides have given me the privilege of meeting some of the most wonderful people I have ever known,” said Barry. “We have pedaled together, dined together, celebrated together, cheered together and shared our stories together. We have laughed together, cried together and fought together.”
Donate to Find a Cure for T1D
I am dedicating my ride this week to Barry Falcon, who inspires me and those around him to be a better friend, to love life and to fight for those we care about. Please support me in this effort by donating to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
I’ve built a fund to match contributions made by you and your network during my ride up to $6,000 – so don’t miss this chance to help!
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
JDRF is the leading global organization funding T1D research. JDRF’s goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until we achieve a world without T1D. As the largest charitable supporter of T1D research, JDRF currently has more than $568 million invested in scientific research in 17 countries.