He has a long ride ahead for diabetes
Gregory Reese poses with his bicycle outside his apartment in Everett last week.
EVERETT — Everett resident Gregory Reese has a long bike ride ahead of him, but it’s for a good cause.
Reese is riding from Centralia to San Diego, a daunting ride for most people, but to him it’s an opportunity to spread awareness of diabetes and raise money to help others learn the signs.
He experienced the hardship of being low income and living with diabetes firsthand.
Reese, 43, was rejected by doctors in his home state of New York for eye surgery related to complications from diabetes. They said no because at the time he lacked health insurance before the Affordable Care Act kicked in.
He was referred to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center and so he made the move out west where he got the surgery this year.
Although he is still hemorrhaging in his left eye, his vision has improved from a legally blind 20/300 in both eyes to 20/40 in the left eye and 20/50 in the right.
“My calling is to talk to diabetics who don’t have my problems yet,” he said.
He started a nonprofit called GR Type 2 Awareness and plans to donate 30 percent of his donation earnings to the American Diabetes Association to support research.
Reese is starting his nearly 1,200-mile ride on July 1.
Although he has Type 2 diabetes and the name of his non-profit organization specifies Type 2 awareness, he said that he wants to support and connect with people suffering from either type of diabetes.
He’s also doing this for his mom, who died of diabetic shock at age 50. Reese’s father and brother do not have diabetes.
Reese attempted a similar bike ride this January, but due to mechanical problems he didn’t make it very far. This time around, he has a brand new bike and he is reassured by having his friend Debra Beckett follow him in a car.
“I am very passionate about this because I know what this means to Gregory,” Beckett said. “He is very concerned for other people.”
His route hugs the coasts of Oregon and California along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Reese plans to bike approximately 50 miles in half of a day and then spend a day and a half asking for donations and spreading awareness. The trip has a total of 30 stops in Washington, Oregon and California.
Right now, Reese is planning on making the trip by himself, with Beckett in a chase car. He encourages anyone that is interested in joining him on his ride to get in touch with him on Facebook by searching for “GR Type 2 Awareness” or donate online at www.gofundme.com/ad3wes (opens in new window).
Some symptoms of diabetes are frequent urination, dehydration and heightened blood pressure. It also has a tendency to run in families. Reese recommends visiting your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
Reese said that he will probably take a similar bike ride out to Spokane this winter and hopes to do other long bike rides throughout the year.