Even the coronavirus pandemic can’t keep down those who are dedicated to promoting the mission of a worthy cause. On August 30, 352 people walked, ran and rode in the 2020 Tour de Cure virtual event to raise $321,295.11 for the American Diabetes Association’s signature Michigan event.
“Locally here in Michigan, we have held events in person for 29 years, but this year we changed to a virtual event and encouraged people to walk, run or ride wherever they wanted,” says Kiel Porter, Michigan associate director for the American Diabetes Association (ADA). “Participants got out into their own neighborhoods and even rode on stationary bikes, wherever they were at the time.”
In addition to raising funds to support diabetes research and awareness, the event brought people together to let those affected by diabetes know that they aren’t alone, says Emilee Kropp, associate manager of donor relations with the Michigan office of the American Diabetes Association, which is located on Civic Center Drive in the Southfield City Centre.
Virtual means participate “wherever you are”
Martin Kinsella, who works for Comau LLC in Southfield and is a member of the Executive Committee for ADA Michigan, has been participating in Tour de Cure since 2013, many years alongside his son, Josh. He believes that pivoting to a virtual event in 2020 was not only a great way to continue a popular event, but encouraged new people to participate.
“While it’s great to have a local event with a great atmosphere, music, food and lots of local volunteers — and this in-person event should be repeated — it also proves that if you do want to do it virtually, you can get a phone app and walk around the block and you have done a half mile,” says Kinsella. “The virtual event opened the door to a lot of people. We are learning from this experience that we can reach a wider audience. We are raising awareness, and it doesn’t matter if you walk around the block, ride or run, you can share what you are doing with friends and neighbors.”
And, with a virtual event, people can take part no matter where they are. Kinsella himself happened to be in England for family reasons when the August virtual event took place. He borrowed a bicycle and, thanks to the 5-hour time difference, completed his 60-mile ride before the official Michigan event even started. “It really proves it can be done anywhere,” he says. His sisters in England also took part in the event by walking 5 kilometers.
“We always love to share Martin’s story because it’s so inspiring and motivating for people or companies that want to get involved,” Porter says. “He’s an advocate for our organzation and is so enthusiastic about Southfield. We always love to share how people can be more involved in our organization.”
Continue to #MoveYourNumbers
Traditionally two separate events for walkers and cyclists, the Tour de Cure unified in 2018 to provide everyone the opportunity to participate by walking, running and riding in one event. For the virtual event, organizers also worked to increase awareness about putting more movement into everyday life and championed the tagline #MoveYourNumbers.
“We really focus on being healthy and active and watching your numbers,” says Porter. Those numbers can be miles, pounds or even the numbers that people with diabetes keep track of.”
The Southfield City Centre offers opportunities for those who work, live, study or visit the area to #MoveYourNumbers on the 7.75-mile extra-wide shared-use path that winds through the district, connecting businesses, restaurants and retail with public art installations, greenspaces and nature. Thoughtfully designed with pedestrians and cyclists in mind, the Southfield City Centre Trail features wayfinding signage, public benches and bicycle repair stations, as well as nature interpretive panels that encourage environmental stewardship and unique birdhouses, plus numerous points of historical interest.
“We encourage everyone to get to know the Southfield City Centre Trail as they gradually come back to work in the district,” says Rochelle Freeman, director of economic development for the City of Southfield. “We hope people will recognize that they can be active on the trail and take part in raising awareness for future American Diabetes Association events right on the beautiful and welcoming Southfield City Centre Trail.”