Pictured: Susan and Libby Russell at the 2023 JDRF Ride in La Crosse, WI
Susan Russell got involved with JDRF in every way she could after her son, William, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D). The Russell family participated in JDRF One Walks, chaired and co-chaired Galas, and Susan joined the community board. Signing up for a JDRF Ride was an exciting yet challenging next step.
“Other JDRF board members convinced me to ride,” she said. “I had a bike but had never gone further than 20 miles. I was very intimidated.”
With the support of her sister and friend, Susan did her first JDRF Ride in Tucson, AZ, in 2013. It was an unseasonably cold and rainy day. Riders wrapped their feet in Saran Wrap and wore shower caps on their helmets! Despite the weather, Susan and her teammates rode 40 miles that day. “We felt very accomplished, even though our original goal was 63 miles,” she said.
All in the family
Libby Russell vividly remembers when her brother was diagnosed with T1D. “At first, it was extremely hard,” she said. “We all had so much to learn.”
After her mother did a few Rides, Libby was inspired. She decided to join her at the JDRF Ride in Amelia Island, Florida, in 2018.
“I was very nervous about doing the ride but encouraged by my mom’s stories,” she said.
Libby had never participated in a group sporting event and worried she would feel “unathletic.” What she experienced was the total opposite. “It is the most cheerful and uplifting community,” she said.”
More than a bike ride
Both Libby and Susan were surprised by the emotional impact of riding together.
“I cried when I passed the finish line the first time with my mom,” Libby said. “It was a really emotional moment I’ll cherish forever.”
Susan and Libby have ridden over 500 miles combined for JDRF and have no plans to stop.
“The feeling of going over the finish line with my daughter is exhilarating,” Susan said. “I am so proud of her and happy to do something together for William and everyone living with type 1 diabetes.”
Learn more about JDRF Ride and how you can join the Ride family.