Tour de Cure sets wheels in motion at Del Mar Fairgrounds April 18 to help diabetes research

Guillermo Ybarra, who has battled diabetes, will be riding in the upcoming Tour de Cure for the second consecutive year.
( / Courtesy photo)

Hundreds of cyclists are expected to raise awareness and funds for diabetes research, education and advocacy during the annual Tour de Cure on April 18 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

“We try and make events that provide people with a way to make a difference for themselves, both physically and mentally, and be involved in helping find a cure,” said John Correia, associate director of the American Diabetes Association’s greater San Diego area chapter, which covers San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial counties. “That’s what Tour de Cure is all about.”

Founded in 1960, the local chapter hosts the cycling event and three walks every year to support the national association’s mission to prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of all people affected by the disease.

The American Diabetes Association has funded innovative research to combat diabetes since 1955. In 2010, the association funded more than $34 million in research at 125 leading research institutions across the country.

The local Tour de Cure is part of the association’s annual event, which first took place in 1991 in California and New York. Today, there are cycling events in 44 states.

Nearly 850 people participated in the local Tour de Cure last year, raising $365,000. The event, which took place in Temecula, was originally scheduled for Torrey Pines High School but was postponed after the 2014 wildfires.

This year, the chapter expects close to 1,000 participants with the goal to raise $420,000. Funds will benefit diabetes research, education and advocacy.

“This is our first year at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and we’re very excited about that,” Correia said. ‘We are very hopeful to make the Del Mar Fairgrounds our start and finish location going forward. We think it’s a great location, and we think the community is very excited about the opportunity to partner with us and raise awareness.”

More than 2.5 million people are living with diabetes in the local chapter’s area.

Almost 30 million people have diabetes in the United States. Approximately 1.7 million Americans will be diagnosed with the disease this year.

San Diego native Guillermo Ybarra is one of the millions of Americans who has battled diabetes.

Ybarra recalled driving on July 4, 2013, when his vision became blurry. When he awakened the next morning with blurry vision again, he made a doctor’s appointment. He was soon diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at the age of 34.

“I was kind of in denial,” said Ybarra, a Chula Vista resident whose parents have diabetes. His cousin also lost his sight from the disease.

“I didn’t want to believe this could happen to me. How could I be OK one minute and not the next?”

Despite his diagnosis, Ybarra did not change his eating and exercise habits. At his heaviest, he was 369 pounds.

When he finally decided to make a change, he took up some active hobbies, including cycling, and joined a weight-loss program. Now 36, he has lost 119 pounds and is diabetes-free.

Ybarra has dropped 119 pounds and is now diabetes free.
( / Courtesy photo)

“It is amazing,” Ybarra said. “It was one of my goals to beat diabetes.”

He will be riding in the upcoming Tour de Cure for the second consecutive year.

During the event there will be four different routes: a 100-mile, 62-mile and 29-mile ride, as well as a 1-mile loop Family Fun Ride. The 29-mile ride is symbolic of the almost 30 million Americans with diabetes.

“This event makes me feel like I’m not alone,” Ybarra said. “We’re all in this together.”

There will be more than 25 vendors, a taco truck and beer available at the event. All participants will receive a free lunch and medal. Those who raise $1,000 or more will receive VIP treatment with a massage and a free beer. All riders participating in the Tour de Cure can also register for the 2016 Tour de Cure for free.

“We’re always looking for volunteers, and we’re always looking for people to help us move our mission forward with donations,” Correia said. “Donations of any amount are always welcome.”

For information or to register for the American Diabetes Association San Diego Tour de Cure, visit Enter “LUCKY7REG” to register for the event for just $7. Participants must raise a minimum of $200.