While I may be new to the Greater New England Chapter, I am not new to New England. I was born in New Haven, CT and then lived in the Metro Boston and Worcester areas from 1986 to 2004. My wife, Rachel, and I have moved back to the Boston/North Shore area and love being “home”!

Rachel and I were certainly familiar with type 1 diabetes (T1D) for many years. As a paramedic I had treated hundreds of people during their hypo or hyperglycemic emergencies. My mom was diagnosed with T1D in her late 50s, so although I was acutely aware of the challenges that she faced, I never lived with it daily. The same holds true for Rachel, her first cousin was diagnosed as a young child in the late 1970s and her sister was diagnosed the summer between high school and college in 1985. Because of her family ties, Rachel went to work in a research lab at the Joslin Diabetes Center after we graduated from college. We knew that T1D was real and it impacted our extended family, but it hadn’t truly “hit home” for us until 2004.

I came home from work one day and found my 13-month-old son, Jake, toddling around the house with a diaper that looked like it had a football in it. It weighed a ton when I changed him, and when I said something to Rachel she immediately commented that she had just changed it recently. That’s when the light bulb went off and we realized we had a problem. The next day, the nurse at the pediatrician’s office commented that kids that young don’t get diabetes, so we should stop worrying. After some well placed maternal instance, the nurse reluctantly agreed to check his blood sugar—next stop a direct ride to the ER at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, an in-patient stay on the Endo unit, and a diagnosis of T1D.

Without getting into the trials and tribulations of having a 13-month-old baby with T1D, I’ll fast forward to 2007. I was away at a conference when Rachel called me to say that our 9-year-old son, Matt, was flagging down every server in the restaurant to get his water glass refilled. I reassured her that he was likely super thirsty after lacrosse practice and to not worry—because what are the odds? The next morning my phone rang at 5:30, she was on the way to Children’s Hospital again and I was frantically packing to start the journey home to meet them.

That’s when our relationship with JDRF started. The challenges that our family endured were, at times, seemingly insurmountable but we realized that rather than retreat we needed to be part of the attack to win the battle and to create a safer world for our kids, cousin, sister, mother, and everyone else with T1D. Our kids became the poster children for the South Jersey chapter. I served on the Board for more than a decade, and was the Chapter President for several years. I’ve also been a member of the JDRF National Speaker’s Bureau, and was the keynote speaker at the TypeOneNation Summit Boston in 2016. Our mission to help JDRF find a cure provided us with membership to the greatest, most amazing club that nobody ever wanted to be a part of!! My willingness to talk about our experience became my platform and my camera became my weapon of choice at the time.

For many years we did Walks and Galas, and then I found JDRF Ride to Cure. In 2011, Rachel and I both rode our first Ride to Cure in Lake Tahoe. Since that time, my bicycle (named Crush) has become my weapon and it has carried me nearly 40,000 miles in training for 22 JDRF Rides for which my family has raised more than $500,000. Two of my sons and both of my brothers have become JDRF Ride to Cure Riders and my parents have handed out hundred of pounds of fudge and “bike crack” along the way (if you don’t know what bike crack is, you’re missing out and should come ride with us!!). In 2012, I became a Ride to Cure Coach, and am a member of the National Coach Leadership Team. As you might be able to tell, riding my bicycle and helping others to ride theirs has become my passion. JDRF Ride to Cure has put purpose in my pedals, and mission in my miles!!

I ride to help make life safer and to find a cure for my family members whom I already mentioned. I also ride because I have a third son, Ryan, who does not have T1D and I am driven to ensure that we can prevent him from ever having to hear the diagnosis. Finally, I ride simply because the JDRF Ride to Cure family is truly amazing and I cannot imagine turning the pedals with a more inspiring group of people!

There is a saying amongst the cycling community—as we pedal through life it’s not where you ride, but who you ride with that matters most! I look forward to joining the Greater New England Coach corps with Frank, Cathy, Don, and Doug, and am extremely excited to ride with y’all during the upcoming 2024 season! If you haven’t joined the JDRF Ride Cure yet, please feel free to reach out to me and I’ll be overjoyed to convince you about why you should!!

Keep on pedaling!
-Scott Kasper

Save the date! 2024 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes registration opens on Thursday, February 1 at 12 p.m. ET at ride.jdrf.org.

Meet our other GNE Ride to Cure Diabetes Coaches! Our coaches provide support to our riders, help set goals, and assist with training plans as requested. Your physical and mental health are important and we believe that continuing to stay active will help with both. If you have any questions about training, registering, or joining us this season please feel to contact Annamaria Lukes at alukes@jdrf.org.