Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

June 7, 2013

Diabetes Association Tour De Cure features local youth as 2013 Youth Ambassador

Diabetes Association Tour De Cure features local youth as 2013 Youth Ambassador

By Rick Pfeiffer rick.pfeiffer@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — If your goal is to raise $3,000 for diabetes research, what do you do when you surpass that mark?

For Vincent Harrer, the answer was easy.

“I’m over five grand,” the 10-year-old fourth-grader at DeSales Catholic School said. “So my goal now is $6,000.”

The American Diabetes Association, Western New York Chapter, Youth Ambassador for the 2013 Tour de Cure believes he’ll make that goal by the time he hops on his mountain bike for the 6-mile ride from the Niagara County Community College campus, down the Lake Ontario shoreline and back, on Saturday. 

Vincent rides as a “Red Rider”, a group of more than 95 Tour de Cure participants who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. 

“It’s awesome. It’s my third year riding and we need to raise money to find a cure and help other people who have diabetes,” Vincent said. 

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 7 years old, Vincent is an avid athlete who plays soccer, lacrosse, baseball, tennis and is a member of the DeSales swim team.

“He’s a regular happy kid,” his father, Brain Harrer said. “But this disease is 24/7 and he has to account for everything that goes into his body.”

Brian is a Niagara County Sheriff’s Office deputy and, for the last nine years, has riden in the Tour De Cure with the Niagara County Law Enforcement & Friends Tour de Cure team. He was recruited to the team by the late Sgt. Jeffrey Juron, who had type I diabetes.

“He was a great sergeant ,” Brian Harrer said of Juron. “He would do anything for us. And now (diabetes) hits so close to home for us with Vincent. Each and every day I wish there was a cure.”

Harrer said there other members of his family, and friends, who deal with diabetes daily. His wife, Lindsay, has an aunt was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12 and several cousins who have type 2 diabetes.

“It’s so far reaching,” Harrer said. 

Harrer and his fellow law enforcement team members will ride this year not only in the memory of Juron, but also to raise money to send Vincent to Camp Aspire, an overnight camp for diabetic children located in Monroe County.

“That means a lot to me,” Vincent said. “I know they’re trying to help me.”

Undersheriff Michael Filicetti is the captain of the law enforcement team and he, too, brings a personal story to the search for a cure to diabetes. In addition to having worked with Juron, Filicetti’s wife was diagnosed with diabetes when she was a child.

“Jeff was the driving force to get our team together abut 15 years ago,” Filicetti saud. “To say Jeff encouraged people is an understatement.”

Fillicetti said improvements in diabetes treatments have greatly benefited his wife, Like Harrer, Filicetti said it’s stunning to see how many people are affected by diabetes.

“You don’t really know how many people have diabetes until you get out (on the Tour De Cure) course and see all those ‘Red Riders’,” he said. “They’re making some good strides (in research) and I’m so proud of the (bike team) we’ve put together because it’s such a good cause.”

Jill Bakeman, Manager of the 22nd annual Tour de Cure, said Vincent is a wonderful role model for kids and adults who are living with diabetes.

“He has such a positive attitude and his upbeat spirit is really contagious,” Bakeman said. “We are thrilled to have him represent the thousands of young people in Western New York who understand the importance of ADA’s quest to find a cure.”

The ADA serves over 140,000 persons with type I and II diabetes in Western New York. Approximately 10 percent of the population here suffers from the life-threatening disease. 

The number of cases in Western New York exceed the national average and are increasing annually. The ADA estimates that by 2020, 50 percent of area residents will be living with diabetes.

TOUR De CURE: Takes place Saturday, starting at the Niagara County Community College campus on Route 31. To donate to Vincent Harrer: go to the Tour De Cure web page, click the "Donate" icon and enter Vincent Harrer as the designated rider.