SARATOGA SPRINGS — Some parents have an app on their phones that tells them where their children are at all times.
Denise NiCastro has an app that tracks her daughter’s blood-sugar levels.
“She wears a sensor that’s connected to my iPhone, so if she goes too high or too low, I call her to make sure she’s taking care of herself,” the Clifton Park woman said.
Her 18-year-old daughter, Grace NiCastro — a sophomore this year at Siena College — was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 15. Denise NiCastro was working for the American Diabetes Association Tour De Cure in Saratoga Springs at the time, but she said her family had no previous history of diabetes.
“I was like, ‘This is crazy,’” she said. “This was not a perk or benefit from the job I wanted.”
She compared managing blood- sugar levels to “trying to catch the wind.”
“It’s different every day,” she said.
On Saturday, Sept. 16, NiCastro will take part in the Ride to Cure Diabetes, a national fundraiser making its way to Saratoga Springs for the first time, after being staged for several years in Burlington, Vermont. Motivated by her daughter, NiCastro has raised more than $3,000 for the ride, which starts and ends at the Saratoga Springs City Center on Broadway and requires all participants to raise at least $2,000.
“A lot of it is social media, and a lot of it is really heartfelt personal emailing that went to my relatives, my friends, my family,” said NiCastro, who is development director for JDRF, the organization hosting the ride. She also raised more than $500 during a charity spin ride at VENT Fitness in Clifton Park.
About 750 people have registered for the Saratoga Springs ride, which is one of five being staged across the country between August and November. Of those cyclists, 512 have Type 1 diabetes and many, like NiCastro, will be riding for family members and friends who have the disease. The ride will bring participants from across the Northeast to the Spa City, including 40 riders from the Capital Region. Organizers expect to raise $2 million.
The top fundraiser so far has contributed nearly $75,000, with several other riders and teams contributing more than $20,000. Participants are expected to arrive in Saratoga Springs on Thursday, Sept. 14, for a welcome reception and dinner and leave after a breakfast on Sunday, Sept. 17.
The ride is unique in that it raises research funds and awareness for Type 1 diabetes specifically, NiCastro said. About 1.25 million Americans have been diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, which stops the body from producing insulin, a hormone needed to get energy from food. Its onset is independent of diet or lifestyle, and there is no cure.
While Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in children, the expression juvenile diabetes is no longer used professionally because it’s also common in adults. In fact, more than 80 percent of people living with Type 1 diabetes are adults, NiCastro said. JDRF, which stands for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, just goes by the acronym now, she said.
Event participants can choose from riding 25, 60 or 100 miles. The 100-mile course starts downtown and follows the Hudson River north. Volunteers will greet riders with food and drinks at aid stations in Corinth, Warrensburg and Pottersville, where professional mechanics will also be standing by.
The “moderately challenging course features rolling hills,” but the mileage options accommodate beginning cyclists as well as seasoned veterans, according to a description on www.jdrf.org.
Registration opened in January, and due to the $2,000 fundraising minimum, NiCastro does not expect too many new riders to sign up. But registration is open until the day of the event, in case anyone is up to the challenge.
To register, email NiCastro at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 518-477-2873.