I should go on the record to begin with by stating that I do not have diabetes. I don’t live with the struggle of consistently checking my blood, watching what and even when I eat, nor do I live with the constant threat that one day diabetes may throw a serious life altering curveball at me. Therefore I found myself just a few days before my first Tour de Cure struggling to grasp onto the concept of volunteering for something that doesn’t directly affect my own lifestyle. Maybe it was because I’ve never really volunteered myself up for something as big as Tour de Cure, and I walked into the event with the mindset of just playing it by ear, focusing on my surroundings, and the goal of trying to essentially figure out the pieces of a puzzle.
I had volunteered myself up for whatever I could help out with, and to that I was offered the opportunity to serve lunch. You may have read my prior article on the history of the Tour de Cure, and the growth of the event over the past decade, so that research sort of gave me a ballpark number to go by. My first glimpse of the Tour de Cure was just the sheer size and magnitude of the event in person, and that came literally in the form of barbecue pulled pork, massive amounts of it. And it wasn’t just one food tent; it was across three separate tents with the task of serving thousands of people. Many people judge size by ticket counters and parked cars, and I judge size by how much food is brought to the table. People need to eat, it’s a known fact, and when you come with three full vans worth of food and the thought that it will all be eaten by the end of lunch, you know you’re in for a show.
The atmosphere at an event like Tour is actually quite relaxing, giving me the vibe that it’s almost like a giant family reunion. As I walked around on a wonderful Saturday afternoon, I could see others reminiscing about past memories, recent happenings, and a common connection. And then it occurred to me that in some ways it truly has all of the basic principles of a family gathering, a thorough mix of all ages getting together for a good cause, enjoying the nice early summer weather and cycling through miles of plush green scenery and most of all, just having a good time. There seems to be a common misconception that events of this kind are supposed to come with a slightly somber attitude or even an certain amount of angst and frustration, but I couldn’t see it even if I tried my hardest, everyone is just happy to be there, either to participate or just to lend a helping hand.
By the end of the afternoon it had finally clicked in my mind on what Tour was all about, and I know this because I wasn’t second guessing my own reactions or emotions or saying in my mind “well I think I know.” I was genuinely happy to be there, to be a part of something bigger than myself, to look forward to next year’s event and riding this time around, and most of all, to have a great time.
I also want to thank all of those that came out this past Saturday to Minnehaha Falls to participate and volunteer, because without you, this event would not be possible! On behalf of the YPLC, thank you!
– Brad Masson