Edwin Velarde has proved that type 1 diabetes should not hold you back from fulfilling your dreams.
The Rotarian from California has just completed an epic 1,200km cycle ride from London to Hamburg, coinciding his arrival in the north German city with the Rotary International Convention.
The distance is symbolic and represents the same 1,200kms which cyclists test themselves against in the epic Paris-Brest-Paris race.
Edwin has previously repeated the feat prior to Rotary International conventions in Seoul, Atlanta and Toronto in a bid to raise awareness of the condition.
This time, he set off from Greenwich in London last month to ride through five European countries as a tribute to the 425 million people suffering from diabetes and the 3.8 million death caused by the condition globally each year.
In England, he was supported by Rotary clubs in Greenwich, Gravesend and Canterbury.
I now wake up every morning with the same level of energy which I had when I was much younger.”
The ride was set against a backdrop of tragedy for the Rotarian from the Westlake Village Rotary, since his 22-year-son Davis Edwin died from cancer in April.
“It was hard at times,” admitted Edwin. “My son died from a high-grade lymphoma. He was supposed to ride with me on this ride.
“It was difficult riding in the middle of nowhere by yourself. Those were the times when Davis and I would be talking.
“I have dedicated the 2019 EPIC Journey Against Diabetes to my son, for what he represents – strong and gentle, driven, while selfless and inspiring.
“My goal has been to raise awareness of the diabetes conditions, its perils and the global diabetes epidemic which is costing millions of lives around the world.”
Edwin began pedalling from London through Kent and crossing the English Channel to Calais. The route followed the Flanders region of Belgium and across to Holland, before arriving in Hamburg in time for the convention.
Along the way, he spoke at a number of Rotary clubs to inspire support.
He was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 29. The software development engineer is now 57, and he admitted that in those early years, coping with type 1 diabetes was hugely.
Today, modern technology allows for better treatment and a better quality of life. “I now wake up every morning with the same level of energy which I had when I was much younger,” added Edwin.
Edwin wasn’t the only marathon cyclist to converge on the convention.
Naresh Kumar rode 8,646kms over 74 days from India to Hamburg, to raise awareness of human trafficking as part of a project supported by the Rotary Club of Guindy.
Riding a tandem, each day the rear seat was filled by a new cyclist, and the final part of the journey was completed prior to the opening of the convention when he took part in a 13-mile ride with more than 100 Rotarians to end slavery.
“It was a fantastic journey,” said Naresh. “I had a lot of fun and have met so many interesting people. I cycled through a dozen countries had had 34 punctures along the way. Everyone has been so kind to me.”