Mari Ruddy—Colorado Tour de Cure
For most people, spending a day with hundreds of hormonal high-school students would be one of the toughest things they had ever encountered. Yet for high school principal, Mari Ruddy, her day job has been nothing compared to the challenges she has faced controlling her type 1 diabetes and surviving breast cancer.
Since being diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 16, Ruddy has lived through 25 years of blood tests, insulin shots and pumps, counting carbs and planning meals. Yet even with all of the extra responsibilities and challenges she faces everyday, Mari makes sure to live an active and healthy life. A major part of Mari's healthy lifestyle is exercise. She has competed in more than seven "century" bike rides and is currently training for an Olympic distance triathlon.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, Mari fought hard through chemo, radiation and surgery. With the added support of family, friends and excellent medical care, Mari is now officially cancer-free.
"My lot in life is to get back up no matter the punch," said Ruddy.
One thing that Mari noticed while she had breast cancer was the tremendous amount of support and admiration given to cancer-surviving athletes. She also began to think that this was not the case with people who were diabetic athletes. Having walked, run and cycled for diabetes, Mari decided that more needed to be done to recognize athletes like herself as diabetes-surviving people.
"I want to work to find a cure AND to celebrate the people who are courageously living with diabetes," she said. "Being a diabetic athlete means a dedication to trial and error. Every diabetic athlete I have ever met or read about is a meticulous record-keeper and is in his or her own way a scientist, continually experimenting on his or her body to find the best combination of insulin, food, stress and exercise. Having diabetes and being committed to performance requires a degree of mental flexibility that deserves recognition and celebration."
This summer, Mari and her team The Red Riders will again participate in the Colorado Tour de Cure. Only this time, Mari and all of the other diabetic-riders will be wearing customized jerseys, declaring their status as diabetes-surviving athletes. Receiving that kind of support and recognition on event day is what keeps athletes like Mari motivated as they tackle the trials and tribulations of balancing their diabetes and an active lifestyle. As Mari and others like her cross the finish line of the Tour de Cure they will declare their status as diabetes-surviving athletes.
"All of us have challenges of one sort or another," said Mari. "It is our courage to overcome and make healthy choices about how we live, no matter the obstacles that binds us together."