Pictured from left to right: Prasad Polamraju, Kim Franklin, Andy Franklin, Dan Gill, Florian Kohl, Charles Hutchinson, Jeff Buczynski, Frank Huerta, John Piper, Amy Mai, Avery Schultz and Burke Schultz. (Not Pictured: Mark Rohr, Tele Fernandes; Team Celanese “Cheering Squad” – Greg Spittle and Erika Zarco).

We’ve all heard the old adage “spinning your wheels,” meaning doing something that achieves nothing.

But what if those wheels weren’t figurative wheels, but were real wheels — say bicycle wheels?  And what if the spinning of those wheels accomplished something great — like raising money to fight diabetes?

You may ask: Why is it so important to raise money to fight this disease?  Diabetes has become the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.  Given the statistics of diabetes in the U.S., there’s a pretty good chance that even if you don’t have diabetes, you probably know someone who does.  According to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, diabetes affects approximately 25.8 million people in the U.S.  Nearly 2 million of those cases are right here in Texas, with close to a half-million in the Dallas/Fort Worth area alone.

Since 2006, I have participated in the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Tour de Cure (TdC) bicycle ride (http://tour.diabetes.org).  The TdC is a charity bicycle ride (not a race) to raise money to fight diabetes.  I have always done the ride solo, but thought: if one person can make a difference, imagine what a team could do.  So, with the help of the Celanese Volunteer Action Team, I pulled together “Team Celanese.”  Team Celanese didn’t just put two wheels to the task, but a whopping total of 26 bicycle wheels!

Between the thrill of riding on the track, the unbelievable heat, the large number of riders, and different routes, there were too many stories to include in this blog.  However, I did have one standout memory from the last leg of the ride that I have to share.  Because the routes are “out-and-back” with staggered starting times, riders from different routes can meet up, even though they were on different routes.  At Rest Stop #1, I met up with Burke and Avery Schultz.  Burke is a Strategic Sourcing Leader in the Celanese Procurement department, and Avery is his wife. What I didn’t realize when they signed up is that Avery is diabetic.  The TdC recognizes those who ride with diabetes as Red Riders, folks who prove every day that with the right support, diabetes does not have to rule their lives.  As we rode back to the Texas Motor Speedway, Avery shared that this was the first time she had done any kind of charity event for diabetes, having only been recently diagnosed.  When she told me about how her diagnosis surprised her, and how it meant a steep learning curve about diabetes for her and her family, it struck me that this is the reason for the whole event —  to help those who deal with this disease every day and to work toward a day when no one will have to travel along that same learning curve.  Let’s just say that riding across the finish line with her and Burke was its own reward.

When fundraising officially closed, Team Celanese was the fourth largest corporate fundraiser, with a total of $4,960.  Overall, the D/FW event raised more than $435,000 toward the fight against diabetes. Yes, that’s right, almost a HALF MILLION DOLLARS from this one event alone!

So, with the success of Team Celanese in 2012, I am hoping we can grow our participation next year and can raise even more money in the fight against diabetes.