The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Ride for awareness

Trip calls attention to diabetes

 

Brandon L. Summers

Tracy Herbert is bicycling across America, from San Francisco to New York, to create awareness of type 1 diabetes. Diagnosed at 17, Herbert thought she only had 20 years to live and would never have children. A grandmother in her 50s, she inspires others by proving life with diabetes is possible. Herbert stopped in Sidney Tuesday as part of her travels.

Tracy Herbert, of Fort Worth, Texas, is creating awareness of type 1 diabetes by bicycling from San Francisco to New York along historic Highway 30.

Herbert arrived in Sidney Tuesday, taking a break before endeavoring on another 80- to 100-mile leg of her trip, which started in June.

Herbert prides herself on being a grandmother who has lived with diabetes for more than 40 years.

"When I was diagnosed, I was told I'd live for 20 years, I'd die with horrible complications, and never be able to have children," she said. "Well, I have two children, I'm still alive, obviously, and riding my bike across the country, and I have no complications at all."

It was not easy living with a deadline, Herbert said.

"I kept thinking, I'm going to die," she said. "I was diagnosed at 17, and even in my 30s I started thinking, maybe my time is up. Then I started doing my own research and started seeing there's things I can do to extend my life a lot longer than what we hear."

Herbert began her trip originally as a "celebration" of her diabetes diagnosis.

"I say 'celebrating' with quotes because not many people celebrate the anniversary of their diagnosis of type one diabetes," she said. "Every decade after 20 years had gone by, I thought, what can I do this year to celebrate another 10 years."

As an advocate and wellness coach, Herbert has become an inspirational figure.

"I started hearing from moms with kids with type one, just like I have, who had no hope and they're hearing the same things from doctors I was told. I'm like, this has got to change," she said. "They're saying, if this old lady can do it, I can do it too."

Herbert is driven by her own inspiring figure.

"When I was diagnosed, one person in the entire world I knew had type one diabetes, back then we called it juvenile diabetes, and it was Mary Tyler Moore," she said. "She was always my inspiration. I always say, if Mary Tyler Moore can do this, I can do this."

More than 29 million Americans have diabetes, Herbert said, most of those with type two.

"What scares me is that one-in-three have it and don't even know it," she said. "There's just a small percentage of us with type one."

Since launching in June, Herbert has marveled at the beauty she has seen on her cross-country trip.

"When you're in a car and you're driving really fast, you miss so many opportunities to see beauty," she said. "There's so many beautiful things between San Francisco and here, it's just crazy."

Along the way, there have been challenges. Not only Nebraska's high winds, but high elevations.

"One day I hit five summits, and that was tough," she said. "That day, I only did 50 miles."

On the trip, Herbert is joined by her husband, Fred Herbert, who serves as team support.

"I'm trying to make sure we find a place to sleep every night, and fix her tires when she has a flat and that type of thing," he said.

Fred Herbert has most enjoyed seeing how his wife has inspired people.

"What's been really interesting is when she comes back from speaking at a camp or she gets an email or text message from somebody saying she gave them hope," he said. "Every day, I get more energized by this mission of hers, because I've seen what she's accomplished."

Tracy anticipates reaching New York in early September. Her adventures can be followed at diabetesride.com.

 

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