2019 Youth Rider Superstar Ryan Kenny

Jim and Ryan Kenny, new participants in the Ride to Cure Diabetes

Ryan Kenny will be one of the most inexperienced riders at this year’s JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in Amelia Island, FL. But compared to other 15-year-olds, he is one of the most experienced in managing type 1 diabetes.

Diagnosed when he was only 18 months old, Ryan has been living with T1D for more than 13 years. He is now expert at guessing carbohydrate counts in everything he eats and in changing all his diabetes equipment by himself. After people meet him, they are surprised to hear he has diabetes. That’s because he is so quick to punch in boluses on his OmniPod PDM or check his blood sugar without missing a beat. It’s also because he has never let diabetes get in the way of living a full life, including going away to camp, doing every activity his friends do, and, most importantly, enjoying almost every sport imaginable.

Baseball is Ryan’s favorite sport and he has played since he was in pre-school. He now plays baseball for the Westhill high school team. Balancing Gatorade carbohydrates with the action or lack of action on the field is always a challenge, but Ryan stays focused on the game and sucks down a juice or boluses insulin when in the dugout to try to keep his blood sugar within range. Ryan has also played football, basketball, and soccer on either school or Stamford teams.

Bike riding is the sport Ryan and his dad, Jim, enjoy most together. Ryan finds himself riding with his dad on sunny weekends, and it was his dad who encouraged him to take on the challenge of the JDRF Ride. It is not Ryan’s first big ride. Ryan and Jim rode 50 miles in the 5 Borough Ride in New York City in 2017 and 45 kilometers in the Bloomin’ Metric in 2018. And it is not Ryan’s first participation in a JDRF event. When he was very young, he participated in the Fairfield County Walks. “I used to think it was a race and was really happy when I would get a plaque for “winning”, said Ryan. “My mom told me many years later that the plaque was given to us for raising a significant amount of money.”

While Jim has started training with local JDRF trainers to prepare for the October Ride, Ryan is more confident that the daily workouts he does for baseball will see him across the 100-mile finish line. He looks forward to the sense of accomplishment he will feel when he “wins” this JDRF event, too.

To learn more about the Ride to Cure Diabetes, contact Jill Waller at jwaller@jdrf.org or call 914-821-1780.