Rodney Paul's 20th year volunteering for the American Diabetes Association
We had the opportunity to sit down with Rodney Paul, a 19-year veteran of the American Diabetes Association's Napa Valley Tour de Cure® committee. We talked at the end of 2012 as his 20th year with the Tour de Cure was approaching. Here are some selected excerpts from conversation:
Why did you become involved with the American Diabetes Association, and with what events / programs?
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1993, and participated in my first Tour de Cure the following year. I started as Red Rider, progressed to Team Captain, and have since served as a volunteer in a variety of roles from Volunteer Coordinator to Sponsorship, Safety, and Sponsorship Chairs. In my time with the Tour de Cure, we've seen it grow from less than $100K to now $1.7 million. Beyond the Tour de Cure, I'm also on the American Diabetes Association's local leadership board and youth strategies national committee focusing on social media. Volunteering is an essential part of what it takes to keep the American Diabetes Association a strong and effective organization.
What is one funny story you can tell from the Napa Valley Tour de Cure
We have wine tasting at the Tour de Cure, and when we first started doing it someone asked "Can people with diabetes have wine?" I said "Yes, but it has to be really good wine." That's been our motto: don't give people with diabetes crummy wine.
What do you do throughout the day to manage your diabetes?
I check my blood sugar very frequently, about 10 times a day, and went to Kaiser to advocate to get the number test strips I need. I'm also a bike commuter... it's not a long ride but I have found you don't need to get a lot for it to help you. Even a 20-minute ride can make a big difference. I also make sure people I work with know I have diabetes. If I tell a colleague my blood sugar is high and I need to go for a walk, they understand why. Your life becomes one big science experiment. People will say "I know pizza has a lot of calories in it," but those of us with diabetes really know the challenge of metabolized a coupe pieces of pizza. It's like surfing a tsunami. I also don't mind testing my blood sugar in front of friends, or when I really feel like I need to. In fact I was picking my bike up from the shop recently and felt like my blood sugar might be low, so I just checked it. The bike mechanic asked if I had diabetes, and said his grandmother had it. Now he's volunteering as a mechanic with this year's Tour de Cure. That interaction helped to solidify a new relationship! People need to share their story... I know closeted people who hide the fact that they have diabetes.
How do you see the connection between people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
I'm glad the American Diabetes Association encompasses type 1 and type 2. I feel really strongly that is the right thing to do. Everyone benefits because we are able to make a more impactful message to more people. We can also help each other.
Is there one thought or message you would like to share with the American Diabetes Association community?
Part of the silver lining of having diabetes has been being a part of this great organization and event that has done so much to help folks with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Being involved with American Diabetes Association has been helpful because I get to meet other people with diabetes and exchange ideas. It feels really empowering to be involved in fighting the disease instead of just being a victim of it. I don't feel like I'm denied anything by having diabetes. I've put a lot into the American Diabetes Association, but I've gotten a lot more out!”
Thanks to Rodney for his dedication, enthusiasm, positive energy, and hard work in 20 years with the American Diabetes Association. Rodney and other volunteers like him have been an essential part making the Tour de Cure a fun, safe and successful event for so many years. Here's to the next 20 years!
If you would like to volunteer with this year's Tour de Cure or know someone who is interested, please contact Rodney at email@example.com.
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