Why I Ride: T1D Mandi teams up with husband to take on La Crosse!

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Ride season is upon us once again! Registration is open and we have already begun to recruit our Southeastern Wisconsin Ride team. If you’ve ever had hesitations to sign up, you’re not the only one! Every year we have new riders that participate to help support JDRF and we hope that you will too! We spoke with T1D Mandi Kirby who teamed up with her husband Chuck to take on La Crosse.


What is your connection to JDRF?

My name is Mandi Kirby, I am 40 years old and was diagnosed with T1D the beginning of my Sophomore year at Purdue University. I was studying Nursing at the time and we were ironically learning about diabetes…and before you know it – it was my life! This was definitely a very difficult transition in college and thankfully I had supportive parents who helped me to navigate healthcare and adapting to T1D while away from home. Since then, I have chosen to try to life gracefully with T1D- I realize that there are highs and lows, literally and figuratively and my goal is to do my best to take care of myself each day and learn from the successes and challenges of the days prior. That is certainly a philosophy that comes more easily sometimes than others but it helps to keep things in perspective. My most proud accomplishment of having T1D besides riding 100 miles in the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes is having healthy twin boys while managing the challenges of T1D. I never will forget the work, focus and determination it took to keep my body healthy and them healthy!

My family and I began to fundraise for JDRF when we realized that we had a strong desire to not only contribute to finding a cure, but also to help people live better lives while they were waiting for a cure for T1D- and JDRF has the same focus. We have fundraised for many years for JDRF and have raised over $138,000 for JDRF to date.

Why did you first decide to participate in Ride?

My supportive husband Chuck has always enjoyed cycling and in the past I had asked him if he had interest in doing the Ride himself with me cheering him on- let’s be honest, I had no interest in riding 100 miles on a bike in August! He said he would think about it and then life got busy and it never came to be. A few years later, as a fitness goal I started cycling with my husband and 2 boys and realized that I was seeing a lot of positive health benefits from my time on the bike. I saw and email from JDRF and in a moment of crazy strength I told my husband that I was ready to do the ride together! I think he only half believed me as I had literally only put about 10 miles TOTAL on my bike to that point but once I set the goal I was determined to achieve it. We trained together all summer and it was great for our health, physical strength and our marriage. We really appreciated the support of our local JDRF chapter before and on Ride day- seeing them at the rest stops helped to keep me inspired and pushing through!

What is the most rewarding part of Ride Day?

The most rewarding part of Ride day was seeing the amazing and supportive T1D community come together to help each other succeed. There were so many people to cheer us on along the course and when I had brief moments of wanted to quit there was always someone there to push me and keep me going. The absolute BEST part was riding across the finish line and hearing our names announced and seeing our 8 year old twins and my parents standing there beaming with pride at what we had just accomplished. It was one of the most rewarding physical accomplishments of my life.

Why would you encourage others to join the Ride to Cure Diabetes?

I would encourage EVERY ONE to consider participating in the Ride to Cure Diabetes- it is such a beautiful experience to be surrounded by people who not only understand life with T1D but also feel it is important to push themselves physically, all while raising money to find a cure for T1D. I wish I could bottle up the feeling of accomplishment at the finish line- but since I can’t – you will just have to take my word for it and sign up and do the ride yourselves! So excited for year #2!