PRESQUE ISLE — Hot, humid weather did not deter 71 cyclists from taking to the scenic routes of Aroostook County this past weekend to raise money for a summer residential camp for children with Type 1diabetes.
The first annual Ride Aroostook event, a 135-mile cycling tour devised by Cary Medical Center in Caribou, raised more than $18,000 for Camp Adventure, a Caribou-based residential summer camp for children ages 12-17 with the illness.
Bill Flagg, director of community relations and development at the Caribou hospital, called the event “outstanding” and said Monday that donations that still were coming in eventually could amount to more than $20,000.
“We just could not have asked for more,” said Flagg, who worked over the past 18 months planning the ride. “More than half of the cyclists were from out of state, and a number of riders told us that it was one of the best organized and most scenic rides that they had ever taken part in.”
The event was based at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Two days of lodging, meals, a live band performance and the ride all were included for participants.
Flagg said the more than 50 volunteers who helped with the ride heard a great deal of praise from the cyclists, particularly about the scenery.
“As the riders who were from out of town and out of state went past the potato fields, the volunteers could hear them remarking about how beautiful this area is,” Flagg said Monday.
Brent Jepson, a member of the event planning committee, drove one of five support vehicles along the cycling route.
He said organizers were hoping to get a lot of people from outside of Maine to take part in the event.
“We are very happy that so many people came from outside The County,” said Jepson. “They will help spread the word for next year. Many had never been this far north.”
The 135-mile route was configured like a clover leaf with riders touring towns including Presque Isle, Caribou, Mars Hill, Easton, Mapleton and Fort Fairfield on different legs of the ride.
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and previously was known as juvenile diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin, which is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Only 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease, according to the ADA. Patients rely on insulin therapy and other treatments to manage their condition.
Based in Caribou, Camp Adventure is now attracting children with Type 1 diabetes from all over Maine and out of state, according to Flagg.
Though the books aren’t yet closed on this year’s event, organizers already are planning for the 2012 ride.
Flagg said Monday that donations still are being accepted for the camp until October. People wanting to learn more should call Flagg at 498-1376.