BACKGROUND OF THE NON-PROFIT
Ryan DeWald, of Reading, Pennsylvania, is 36 years old and has been racing bicycles across the U.S. and Europe for over 20 years. Each year, from February through October, he competes in over 50 elite and professional races. He has won over 100 races during his career. At the end of the 2013 season, he began feeling exceedingly weak and fatigued. He Initially attributed this to the normal fatigue from another long season of racing. But soon this fatigue exceeded in both severity and duration any he had previously experienced. He was diagnosed with late onset type 1 diabetes. In addition to the shock of being diagnosed with a life altering disease, he had to deal with the prospect that the disease could immediately end his racing career. Type 1 diabetes prevents the pancreas from producing sufficient insulin, thereby preventing the body from using, storing, and regulating blood sugar levels. For most people afflicted with T1D, it is a challenge to manage blood sugar levels throughout the day. For an elite-level competitive endurance athlete, the challenge of managing blood sugar levels during the long periods of intense competition and training sessions is exceptionally difficult. It is this challenge that often consigns those with diabetes to believe they have limited prospects of maintaining a highly active or competitive lifestyle. For young children so diagnosed, and their families, this prospect can be especially orgastating.
Once Ryan DeWald started treated for diabetes, he began regaining his health and strength. He was able to return to his livelihood of racing bicycles. He quickly began winning again. Within weeks of being discharged from the hospital, he found himself sharing a post-race podium with an Olympic champion. Since then, he has been inspiring rivals and aspiring young cyclists with his ability to manage the disease and compete. He soon found he is not only inspiring other competitive cyclists. He noticed he is also inspiring and instructing other diabetics on how to manage the disease and continue improving aerobic fitness. It became clear he is also inspiring and helping those with disabilities other than diabetes.
Ryan DeWald founded the non-profit organization Winning the Race with Diabetes to educate, motivate, and support those with diabetes.
The WTRWD organization is dedicated to instructing others in the methods of managing the disease and inspiring the will power to overcome health-related obstacles to continue (or start) a healthy and athletic lifestyle. Too many people afflicted with T1D see the physiological impacts of the disease, and the accompanying demands of the monitoring and insulin administration, as precluding an athletic lifestyle. Those who do manage to maintain a generally athletic lifestyle, still too often view competition in endurance sports as unattainable because of the disease.