Ainsley's Angels and its mission of inclusion bike to support diabetes patients, find cures

ainsley's tour de cure 2.jpg
Posted at 6:49 AM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 12:16:35-04

An organization that brings athletes and the special needs community together for endurance challenges is once again throwing its support behind those fighting diabetes.

Rob Cass of Virginia Beach and Ashton McCormick of Chesapeake began riding in the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure five years ago.

Through Ainsley's Angels of America, the two were used to running races -- Rob Cass pushing special needs athletes like McCormick in a racing chair -- but Tour de Cure puts Cass on a bike, pulling the chair instead.

"[Ashton] was the first person that we ever pulled in Tour de Cure. The first inclusion team ever," said Cass.

ainsley's tour de cure 1.jpg

Tour de Cure is a nationwide fundraiser, with money raised by cyclists going to diabetes research and helping financially support diabetes patients.

Typically a one-day event, the 2021 Tour de Cure runs virtually from March 15 to May 1, with rides happening anywhere and everywhere.

Cass and McCormick have partnered yet again, along with 29 other Ainsley's Angels teams in several states, each with a goal of riding around 130 miles.

"I'm driving around with my bike on the back of my Jeep and I give his mom a call and saying, 'Hey, I've got some time' and we'll ride around the neighborhood. We're going to actually ride more miles this year than we normally do and more often than we have in the past," said Cass.

McCormick, who has autism, wouldn't normally be able to participate in an event like this, but through Ainsley's Angels, he can.

"It really touches on everything we're both about," said Deanie Eldridge, Executive Director for the American Diabetes Association. "The health, the physical activity and making sure everyone feels included."

So far, Ainsley's Angels has raised about 70 percent of its 2021 Tour de Cure goal of $5,000. The American Diabetes Association is hoping to raise a total of $300,000 and Eldridge says it's needed more than ever with many diabetes patients struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We've probably had at least 20 percent more inquiries in the past year," she told News 3. "You're looking at individuals who have maybe lost their jobs or they've been furloughed or their hours have been cut and they still need their diabetes medications and supplies."

Cass, McCormick and other teams like theirs are determined to help.

Ainsley's Angels is accepting donations at its Tour de Cure page. For more information about Tour de Cure, how to participate and how to donate, click HERE.