Around 50 motorcycle riders gathered at a parking lot just off Main Street in downtown Winnipeg on Saturday morning, readying for a ride to Steinbach in support of Diabetes Canada.
The Sikh Motorcycle Club of Manitoba organized the gathering, joining other clubs in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario to commemorate the discovery of insulin 100 years ago, with a goal of raising $100,000 for the organization’s programs, research and services for those living with diabetes.
“Once we met the families, which are part of Diabetes Canada … we realized the cost is great,” Raj Sandhu, spokesperson for the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Manitoba, told Global News.
“I think that’s how we decided all over Canada that we should … do a one nation, one ride.”
Sandhu, whose father has the disease, said the local club was inspired to join the cause after the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Ontario held its inaugural ride last year.
He said the group hopes the event will become an annual fundraiser.
Diabetes ‘a growing problem’: Sikh Motorcycle Club of Canada
Diabetes Canada suggests 146,000 Manitobans are living with diagnosed type 1 or type 2 diabetes in 2021 and projects that could increase to 194,000 by 2031.
“In every single community or society, it is a growing problem,” Sandhu said.
Read more: Support wanted for Manitobans with diabetes
Diabetes Canada estimates the figure is much higher when people living with prediabetes or undiagnosed diabetes are included. Combined, the organization says it could account for around 403,000 Manitobans — at least 28 per cent of the province’s population.
Diabetes Canada anticipates the number of people in the province living with diagnosed cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes could increase by 33 per cent over a ten-year period.
By 2031, it says the direct cost to health care could amount to $194 million.
“Diabetes Canada is grateful for the commitment and support of the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Canada, and the riders here in Manitoba,” regional director of Diabetes Canada Andrea Kwasnicki said in a news release, adding that events and partnerships like these allow the organization to further support those living with diabetes, prediabetes or undiagnosed in Manitoba.
The Dyer family of five stopped by Saturday morning to see the riders off.
“We’re here to show our support and gratitude to this club for raising funds across part of the country today … and to also check out all these fantastic machines with the kids and wait for it all to start up and feel that rush,” Steve Dyer said, who lives with type 1 diabetes along with his son, Miles. “Pretty excited to be down here.”
Diabetes Canada runs summer camps for kids living with type 1 diabetes, something Miles’s mother Liz said she appreciates.
“He doesn’t have to feel like he’s sort of one person living on an island by himself dealing with this,” Liz said. “Everybody around him gets to experience it together.”
Many things may affect blood sugar levels, she said, that people do not realize, including growth, hormones, physical activity, sickness and stress.
“(Diabetes is) something that never goes away. It’s something that always has to be watched and monitored,” Liz said.
“So, it’s nice to see a group support us,” she said with a smile.
“Insulin is not enough,” the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Manitoba said in a news release. “It’s the starting line, not the finish line for diabetes.”
Sandhu said together, they can make a difference.
“We can fight together.”