Kaileigh Moore rode 25 miles in the annual Tour de Cure on her bicycle Sunday — her favorite day of the year.
The 19-year-old Union College sophomore from Saratoga Springs participated in the 17th annual ride to raise money for diabetics like her.
Moore was diagnosed with diabetes the day after her 13th birthday, she said. She wears an insulin pump and an insulin monitor.
Moore is also training for a triathlon, so the race wasn’t difficult for her, she said.
“It was difficult the first year I did it because I just jumped right into 25 miles and it was harder than I thought,” she said.
She said diabetics have to listen to their bodies when they do any strenuous physical activity because the disease affects everyone differently and also affects people differently day-to-day.
About 1,600 people participated in Sunday’s bicycle race, which raised money for the American Diabetes Association, according to coordinator Denise Nicastro. About 10 percent of the riders were diabetics, she said. Participants rode 10, 25, 52, 62, or 100 miles in road races that started and ended at Saratoga Springs High School.
For the second year in a row, the Tour de Cure also offered a spinning option instead of an outdoor road race. Fifty spin bikes were provided from area Gold’s Gyms. Instructors Karen Kohler and Nancy Katinas led the spinners on a three-hour ride. Riders were allowed to take as many breaks as necessary, and volunteers provided water, oranges and other snacks for participants.
Kohler said the spinners rode between 35 and 50 miles in the three hours.
Kristen Brozio of Ballston Lake, a sixth-grade teacher at the Shenendehowa Central School District, said the first 20 minutes of the ride were difficult, but it became easier as her muscles warmed up.
Her friend Laura Henniger of Clifton Park agreed and said it was also difficult to get started again after she took a break midway through the ride.
Henniger said she agreed to participate in the event because her grandfather suffered from diabetes. Brozio said she has noticed that a lot of her students are also affected by the disease.
“A lot more than I would have thought,” she said.
Russell Wiltsie of Saratoga and his brother Bob of Clifton Park rode Sunday in honor of their mother, who died from diabetes in 1997. Russell Wiltsie said the disease runs in his family.
“We’re plagued with it in our family,” he said. “It’s something that we all have to be careful of.”
The Wiltsies participated in the bike ride Sunday with a large group of their family and friends all wearing lime green T-shirts. The family has been participating for the last four years and raised $7,000 last year for the cause.
Mike Manning of Queensbury rode 10 miles for diabetes in honor of his best friend Rick Schermerhorn, who was in critical condition Sunday at Albany Medical Center after he was injured in a bicycle accident in Moreau on Wednesday.
Manning said the circumstances surrounding Schermerhorn’s accident are still unclear. The 43-year-old diabetic had been training for nearly a year for Sunday’s race.
Manning said he decided Friday evening to race in his place.
“It was emotional crossing the finish line,” he said.
The Tour de Cure in Saratoga is one of 80 races across the country. The Saratoga race ranks fourth in fundraising. Last year’s efforts raised $705,000 for the America Diabetes Association, Nicastro said.
This year’s goal was $825,000 and despite the rainy weather, Nicastro said they were expected to hit the mark.
“The weather wasn’t great, but the event was still a success,” Nicastro said. “Everyone is in good spirits and the energy is still there.”
A crowd of supporters stood along the Saratoga Springs High School entrance Sunday to cheer on racers as they crossed the finish line. Participants were also treated to a lunch catered by Glen Sander’s Mansion and massages.
Michaela Byrnes, 23, of Saratoga, who was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 16, was a volunteer at the Tour de Cure on Sunday. She said she loves being a part of the event because of the support and camaraderie she feels being around so many people who have diabetes too.
“Everyone does so much work here and they are all raising money to help people like me,” she said.