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In Loving Memory of a Great Man - My Grandpa!

In Loving Memory of a Great Man - My Grandpa!
In Loving Memory of a Great Man - My Grandpa!

I ride because my grandpa, James J. Venezia Sr., was diagnosed with diabetes in his sixties. He lived the later ten years of his life fighting to keep the disease under control.

We unexpectedly lost him to the disease in October 2003. He passed away peacefully in his sleep. We knew his health had been declining in the few months prior, but never expected he would be gone so soon.

Shortly after losing him, my sister's co-workers informed her they had started a team, 'Back In the Saddle', and were riding in the Morristown-NJ Tour de Cure in June 2004. They asked if she'd like to join the team and ride for the cause. She said yes and immediately called me to see if I wanted to join also.

My sister, Jennifer Rinaldo, and I signed up for the 10-mile ride at first. I notified my husband (John), a man who loves incorporating fitness into his every day life, and he convinced me (pretty quickly) that 10 miles was a walk in the park. He too decided to sign up for the event and joined our team. The three of us agreed we would step it up and go for the 30-mile ride in memory of my grandpa.

I had so much fun on the ride in 2004, regardless of what seemed to be 27 miles up-hill. When my legs wanted to give out, I would remind myself the reason behind my ride. I prayed for my grandpa to give me the strength I needed to push myself harder, to pedal a little faster. It worked! I crossed the finish line, with my husband, in a little over two hours. I couldn't believe how rewarding it felt to finish the 30-mile tour. My sister came in a short time after us, just as proud and amazed that she had completed the ride. We all agreed we would come out and ride again in 2005.

Not having the chance to say good-bye to him before he died, riding the tour in his memory helps me in the healing process of coping with the loss. I know he looks down on me from up there, smiles, and says to himself 'Well you're alright Beck, ya know that? You're a good kid.'...and that's thanks to him for being such a wonderful role model in my life.

Within recent months - knowing our ride was soon upon us again - my husband and I found out a close friend of ours was diagnosed as a diabetic. Being in his early thirties, we were shocked to hear the news. Knowing that a friend within our own age bracket is now battling this disease we are more motivated to get out and make the ride this year.

We will be riding Tour de Cure 2005 in memory of a great man my grandpa as well as in honor of our close friend. We hope our participation in this event will some day help to find a cure for the disease.

So many lives are affected by diabetes and my story is just one of those many out there. Thanks for listening to my story.

- Rebecca Venezia Schroppe (team: Back In the Saddle)
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