EAST COUNTY — As Dr. Maribel Santos-Cordero wakes hours before work to ride her bike, she thinks of 10-year-old Hannah Gentry.
The mother of two boys has been preparing for what she feels is the only way she can help Hannah outside the two times a year she sees her for dental checkups.
For the last three months, Santos-Cordero has been conditioning for the American Diabetes’ Association’s Tour de Cure, which takes place at 7:30 a.m. March 30, at Lakewood Ranch Main Street. Funds from the event will go toward helping individuals like Gentry, who suffer from diabetes.
Cyclists of all skill levels can participate with 10-, 35-, 62- and 100-mile routes available. Registration starts at 6:30 a.m. with the first ride starting at 7:30 a.m.
Santos-Cordero will ride her longest distance, yet — 100 miles — with her cycling group, the Village Idiots, and her husband, Francisco Mercano, who encouraged her to start cycling.
Over the last three months, Santos-Cordero also has raised $1,000 for the cause, compared with the $200 fundraising minimum required to participate in the race.
“It’s important to me to support the groups who support my patients,” Santos-Cordero said. “I can’t do the research, so this is my contribution; I do what needs to be done to get the funding to get the education out there.”
Children and adults who suffer from diabetes are at a higher risk for gum diseases because of the chronic mouth dryness diabetes can cause. Lack of moisture can cause cavities and other oral complications, which can cause other health problems in other parts of the body later, Santos-Cordero said.
Santos-Cordero says she rides, this time, specifically for Hannah, who has become a friend.
She plans to write Hannah’s name on the bar near her bicycle seat to remind her why she’s racing when she gets tired, she said.
The girl has been a patient of Santos-Cordero’s Lakewood Ranch dentist practice for the last three years.
“Hannah is always happy and bubbly,” Santos-Cordero said, smiling as she talks about Hannah. “She always has a remark for everything. Oh, and is she talkative. She’s so fun to be around — a riot. So, I try to go above and beyond for her.”
For more information on the American Diabetes Association or to donate, visit diabetes.org.
IF YOU GO
Southwest Florida Tour de Cure
When: 7:30 a.m. March 30
Where: 8131 Lakewood Ranch Main St., Bradenton
Cost: Registration fee is $25; fundraising minimum is $200
Race details: 10-, 35-, 62- and 100-mile rides available
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].