Rider Crosses Canada in Winter to Raise Diabetes Awareness

May 1 2009

His friends and family thought he was crazy, but he was determined to pursue this awareness ride. On January 1 of this year, Mike Cole, outfitted with heated clothing, mounted his stock 1995 Harley-Davidson Softail Custom at Mile Zero in North America’s oldest city, St. John’s, Newfoundland to begin his icy ride west, the finishing point to be Mile Zero, Victoria, British Columbia, all in the name of awareness. Not awareness to how cold his ride would be, but awareness for diabetes, also known as the ‘Silent Killer’.

I caught up with Mike at the Edmonton Motorcycle Show on January 18th. In those 18 days, he had stopped in major cities, and not necessarily ones on the direct route. Halifax, NS and Charlottetown, PEI are just two examples of where he went out of his way to ensure people were aware of his cause. Cole dealt with icy roads and slush for the better part of his journey across Canada and only loaded his bike onto a truck a few times due to weather. Up to that point of our meeting in Edmonton, he had only gone down once.

Dealing with black ice, snowstorms and wind chill temperatures in the -65 C range, Mike feels the ride was worth it and has garnered quite a bit of radio, TV and press from his trip. One of the items he’s hoping to change is the public’s view through education programmes of diabetes and what happens to those that are suffering from the disease.

When talking about insulin shock; Mike, a Type 1 diabetic said, “It’s very traumatic, even as an adult. It’s a horrible, horrible thing and I’ve never really been able to describe what happens, but it is serious.” He told me of a time when he was with friends and he went into shock, he needed something with sugar in it like juice or pop and his friends said ‘just a minute’. “Well, in that case I don’t have a minute,” he said. They just didn’t know the seriousness of the situation.

Another point Mike wanted to make is the epidemic levels of the disease throughout the world. “The numbers we hear are North American, but it is a worldwide disease and is developing far faster in under-developed countries than it is here.” Mike continues, “One-in-three Caucasians born after the year 2000 are estimated to become a diabetic and that number changes to one-in-two if you are Black, Hispanic or Native American.”

Mike would also like to convince the federal government to provide insulin pumps across the country instead of the way it is now. Right now, it’s a provincial programme and some residents get free pumps while others have to buy them. In some cases the person cannot afford them, and in-turn, is jeopardizing their health.

Mike’s website, www.ridefordiabetes.com, states that in 2006, 3,153,600 people died from diabetes and 6,307,200 became a diabetic in that same year. If that number doesn’t astound you, how about the fact that there were 253 million cases worldwide in 2007 and by the year 2025, that number is estimated to reach 800 million. The death rate will, of course, also climb.

Mike finished his goal and rode to Mile Zero in Victoria, BC on January 22nd as scheduled. Mike vows to continue to promote awareness to both the public and the government.

“I was told that I wouldn’t be able to do this ride and I was having doubts myself, but I think it’s obvious that I can do it,” Mike said. “It’s the same thing as diabetes, we can find a cure for it.”

Check out Mike’s website at www.ridefordiabetes.com to learn more and how you can help.

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