Karen West is one of the newest members to join the JDRF Eastern PA Board of Directors this July—but this isn’t her first JDRF rodeo. An avid cyclist, Karen is an integral part of the Ride to Cure Diabetes program, a destination cycling event that benefits JDRF. She is motivated to ride by her personal connections to type 1 diabetes (T1D). Her youngest daughter was diagnosed with T1D at the age of four, and her husband was diagnosed as an adult.
Karen is a Ride Champion. In this role, Karen serves as the chair of the local Ride Committee. She is one of two lead chapter volunteers overseeing the progress of recruitment, fundraising, and participant stewardship. In short, she is amazing!
JDRF Ride has raised over $47 million for T1D research to date. This extraordinary event gives cyclists of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to support breakthroughs that transform the lives of people with T1D. Participants choose from one of six Ride locations, train with their local coach to achieve their mileage goals, and use guidance from their local chapters to meet (and exceed!) their fundraising commitments.
Karen will be riding in Saratoga Springs, NY, this September along with her friends and daughter. It will be a weekend-long celebration that culminates in an inspirational, one-day ride. Her husband, in-laws, parents, and youngest daughter are also making the trip to cheer them on!
Read below to find out more about why Karen rides.
What excites you the most about being involved with Ride?
I love meeting new people who share my passion for doing something for such an important cause. I have made good friends, and I enjoy the time I get to spend with them during the event and all summer while training. It also gives me the opportunity to combine something I love to do with my passion for supporting JDRF.
What are your fundraising strategies?
I talk about my ride to anyone who will listen. I tell them why I am doing it and about what our life is like as a T1D family. When someone offers to donate, I follow up with a personal email and the link before they forget, and I will send gentle reminders if needed. I actively post the link to my fundraising page on Facebook and other social media pages (about every two to three weeks). I provide regular updates on my training progress and share picture of my rides.
I have had people tell me they enjoyed following my story all summer and seeing my progress. I actively posted updates during Ride Day so people could share the day with me. Many friends remember the day and ask me if I am riding again this year. I send personal emails to lists of colleagues and acquaintances that I am not connected with on social media.
What is one tip you would share with those who are new to fundraising?
Social media is the easiest. Post frequently—tell your story and get personal
How has JDRF’s support made a difference for you and your family?
I find that the emotional support you get from being actively engaged with this community is amazing. It is so needed, very comforting and something you can’t get anywhere else—everyone just gets it. (Outside of the T1D community, nobody gets it.)
What would you tell someone with T1D/a newly diagnosed family about JDRF?
Hang in there; the first year is difficult, but it gets easier. And reach out for support; this is difficult to do alone.
I ride to show my support for my daughter and husband and for all those who have T1D.
JDRF Ride isn’t just a bike ride; it’s an experience where hundreds of riders come together from all over the world to make new friendships, enjoy the unparalleled camaraderie of the Ride community and raise money to help end T1D. Don’t worry—you don’t need to be a professional cyclist to participate in one of the amazing events! We encourage riders of all ages and skill levels to visit ride.jdrf.org to learn more.
Have questions? Let’s talk! Please reach out to
Development Director Kate Wickersham at email@example.com or 610-227-0365.