EAST COUNTY — Anne DePerty watched her father battle diabetes and eventually die from complications from the disease in 2010.
But, even with her family history, DePerty didn’t suspect she’d ever battle the health issue herself.
“Three months after he died, I found out I was diabetic,” DePerty said. “That was kind of emotional and scary.”
The East County resident attended a diabetes-education program at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, at which she learned about diabetes and how to manage it.
DePerty changed her eating habits and began exercising; she turned to a childhood pastime — riding her bicycle.
“I just got on my bike and rode around the neighborhood,” DePerty said. “Now, I can do 35 miles in a day. That’s not a long ride for me anymore.”
This weekend, DePerty will join hundreds of other cyclists from throughout the Sarasota/Bradenton area for the American Diabetes Association’s Lakewood Ranch Tour de Cure event, at Lakewood Ranch Main Street. Rides start at 7:30 a.m. with 10-, 35-, 62- and 100-mile rides available, each with different starting times. Registration opens one hour before a given ride, and each rider is asked to commit to a minimum of $200 through fundraising.
DePerty, who will represent the Girl Scout troop she co-leads, will be one of about 60 riders sporting red jerseys to symbolize they have diabetes.
“It’s neat to see other people who are in the same place you are,” said DePerty, who rode as a guest in the Orlando Tour de Cure March 17. “It’s sort of an immediate (connection).”
Event organizer Melissa Parsons, of the American Diabetes Association, said about 800 riders are expected to participate in this year’s ride.
The organization will provide breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks and drinks, along each ride route. The girls in DePerty’s Girl Scouts troop even will man a rest stop for riders and distribute Girl Scout cookies to cyclists on their route.
Support vehicles also will be following riders to help ensure their safety.
“(These rides) have been popular across the country,” Parsons said of Tour de Cure events. “A lot of communities are more aware of the need to get healthy and change their lifestyle. This is really a way for groups — families, friends or corporations — to get a group together and train and exercise and have the ultimate goal of riding.
“It’s an all-around energy,” she said of the event. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Non-riders are welcome to come out to cheer for riders, as well, Parsons said.
Contact Pam Eubanks at peubanks at yourobserver.com.
IF YOU GO
TOUR DE CURE
When: 7:30 a.m. Sunday, April 7
Where: Lakewood Ranch Main Street
What: 10-mile, 35-mile, 62-mile and 100-mile ride options available. Rides start at 7:30 a.m. (100); 9 a.m. (62); 10 a.m. (35); and 11 a.m. (10). Registration opens one hour prior to each ride. Event includes breakfast, opening ceremony, lunch and other activities. SAG vehicles and motorcycles on route to keep riders safe. Fully stocked and supported rest stops are provided along each route.
Cost: $200 fundraising commitment