Jakub “Kuba” Mosur might be the most meticulous cyclist you’ll see riding around the Bay Area these days. In the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, a friend suggested a fixed gear road bike as a way to stay physically in shape during quarantine. He was hooked. Recently, like many cycling enthusiasts now out on the open roads, he joined the social network on the popular fitness app Strava. The app tracks your activity with GPS and allows you to share the data with your followers. A lifelong artist and professional photographer, Kuba was happy to learn that he could design and draw artwork on his ride maps. On July 25, 2020, he created his first GPS art, the Eye of Horus – an ancient Egyptian symbol of good health. This was also the day his daughter Zosia, then 11 years old, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D).
“The first thing we noticed was that Zosia had been getting a little on the thinner side. But kids who are that age start to stretch out and sometimes their body fat doesn’t quite catch up. So, her weight loss was camouflaged in a sense,” says Kuba. He and his wife Erin then noticed other red flags. Zosia was drinking a lot of water and getting up to use the bathroom multiple times a night. At first, they were able to explain away that thirst due to the summer heat. But when they talked to her pediatrician about these symptoms, they were told to bring Zosia to the hospital right away. “And the next thing we knew, they said we needed to bring our overnight bags, because we were going to spend some nights there,” says Kuba.
As the Mosur family adjusted to life with T1D, while still in the early days of quarantine, they kept hearing about JDRF. Zosia participated in a clinical study for newly diagnosed T1D patients at Stanford Children’s Health, and they learned that JDRF helped fund this study and other critical research that would help improve Zosia’s life. Kuba and Erin joined an online support group for parents of kids with T1D and heard about the outreach and fundraising opportunities that JDRF offered. The family had not told many people about Zosia’s diagnosis until Kuba drew T1D on his Strava map during National Diabetes Awareness Month in November 2020. He had been drawing more and more GPS art with his rides when he was approached to join the JDRF NorCal Ride team. He announced his participation as only Kuba could – with a JDRF graphic.
Kuba discovered that the JDRF Ride (and One Walk) are connected to Strava to help participants rally and fundraise. His GPS art became a unique way for him to use this tool and raise awareness. Joined by several other JDRF NorCal riders, he and his team have drawn a giant heart on Valentine’s Day and a #Insulin4All graphic which included a picture of an insulin vial.
Kuba creates his art by pinpointing positions on a map and finding the most direct route from point to point. The ride must be accomplished in one uninterrupted line, while in one gear on the very hilly streets and steep grades of San Francisco. If he accidentally gets off course, he needs to start over. But he doesn’t mind taking on extra challenges to help call attention to his daughter’s cause.
Zosia is now 13 and is managing her T1D with an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor (CGM). She is quick to point out to her parents that there are no “bad” blood sugar readings; they are just numbers. She knows that it’s important to keep those numbers in range, but she doesn’t beat herself up about them. “She’s very advanced and very sophisticated in her outlook on life,” Kuba says. “It makes me extremely proud of how quickly she understands complex concepts. She ran for office at her grade school, serving as Vice President and then President of the student body.” With a growing interest in politics, last year Zosia joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi on stage at a press event in San Francisco to share her story and speak publicly about the rising cost of insulin.
The Mosur family are advocates for insulin affordability, access to therapies, and federal funding of research to improve lives and find cures for T1D. What would a cure mean to the Mosur family? “Equilibrium and no more worry,” says Kuba. Setting his sights on that day, Kuba will continue to make a difference with his GPS art, precisely and passionately. What will he draw when a cure is found? “A happy pancreas,” he says. We can’t wait to see that artwork, Kuba.