Westerville News & Public Opinion

Tour de Cure ready to roll to battle diabetes

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JENNIFER NESBITT/THISWEEKNEWS
Sarah Armbrust was diagnosed three years ago with Type II diabetes. The Westerville resident and Worthington teacher will join the Red Riders, all of whom have diabetes, in the American Diabetes Association's annual Tour de Cure. The bicycling event begins at 6 a.m. June 8 at Westerville Central High School, 7117 Mount Royal Ave.
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At 22, Sarah Armbrust was healthy: She ate well and was active.

A graduate student, Armbrust said she was a bit sleep-deprived and stressed out, so she thought little of feeling fatigued.

She also didn't make much of a note of her frequent trips to the bathroom; it was a hot summer, and she was drinking a lot of water.

She finally visited her doctor after she spent one night going back and forth the bathroom, getting up seven times in seven hours.

She said she never expected the diagnosis she received: Armbrust was Type II diabetic.

"It never crossed my mind. In my mind I was doing the right things -- eating right, being active," Armbrust said. "I wasn't overweight. I was very, very active."

In the three years since her diagnosis, the Westerville resident has joined the American Diabetes Association's annual Tour de Cure, a bicycling event that raises money for research and to increase awareness about diabetes.

Armbrust is one of the tour's "Red Riders," a group of diabetics who join the tour in red cycling shirts to show that they are affected by the disease.

This year's ride will begin at 6 a.m. June 8 at Westerville Central High School, 7117 Mount Royal Ave.

The ride includes 12-, 30-, 60- and 100-mile routes, with rest stops, food and fuel for riders along the way. More than 600 riders are expected to raise more than $200,000 in the 22nd annual Tour de Cure.

Stories like Armbrust's underscore the importance of raising awareness of the disease, organizers said.

"Every 17 seconds, someone in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes," said Tour de Cure Chairman Scott Steiner. "There are thousands of people living right here in central Ohio with diabetes who don't know they have the disease.

"Every dollar raised by this event helps provide information and outreach, education, protects the rights of people with diabetes and funds research toward a cure."

Armbrust said her diagnosis also taught her more about the disease. She knew grandparents on both sides of her family were Type II diabetic, but she said she never worried about the disease.

Genetics and lifestyle factors beyond weight and diet can bring on the disease, she's learned.

"Stress, maybe sleep, could have been the trigger. I had it on both sides of the family; it just needed to be triggered," Armbrust said.

Armbrust, a Worthington Estates teacher, said she's learned to manage the disease, which can be time consuming, as she has to regularly check her blood-sugar levels and adjust the settings on her insulin pump to accommodate it.

She said she hopes to be able to teach others that the stereotypes about Type II diabetes can be inaccurate, and the disease can strike anyone.

"People are shocked when I tell them (I have diabetes)," Armbrust said. "I think people have the stereotype that it's all these obese people, but that's not the case."

Armbrust said participating in the Tour de Cure has been rewarding because it's helped her connect with others affected by the disease and tackle a new sport.

"It makes me proud of myself and what I've accomplished with diabetes," Armbrust said.

More information on the Tour de Cure can be found at Tour.Diabetes.org.

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