Wendy Lampro has biked thousands of miles in 100-degree heat, sub-freezing weather and days following a serious operation -- all in memory of her sister who died a decade ago this month.
On Saturday in Tuscon, Ariz., Lampro will peddle in her fifth "Ride to Cure" since Kelly Alden-Terranova, 41, of South Lee passed away Nov. 25, 2003 from complications of Type 1 diabetes. The 111-mile cycling fundraiser will benefit the Greater Connecticut/Western Massachusetts chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Alden-Terranova losing her 28-year battle with Type 1 and concern for those living with the disease formerly known as Juvenile Diabetes are key reasons Lampro pushes her body and bicycle to the limit.
"You get angry and bitter when you lose someone. There's nothing you can do," Lampro said. "When I'm out there [biking], it's for my sister and others as I have a friend whose daughter has Type 1."
Counting the Tuscon event, Lampro, 45, will have raised $44,000 for JDRF dating back to her first "Ride to Cure" event three years ago. Previously, Lampro has ridden twice in the scorching climate of Death Valley, Cal., -- once 17 days after an operation that takes weeks of recovery, -- 20 degree temperatures in Lake Tahoe, Calif., and this summer in Burlington, Vt.
Barbara Weisman, regional development manager for JDRF, praises Lampro's dedication to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.
"She's been one of our heroes," said Weisman.
According to JDRF, three million Americans -- 85 percent of them adults -- have Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease in which a person's pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. Research scientists believe genetic factors and the environment triggers the disease, but no preventative measures or cure exists.
What those with Type 1 diabetes have is high-tech insulin pumps, support services and a more caring public, unlike when Alden-Terranova was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 13 in 1975.
"The stigma was horrible as no one knew how to act around her," said Lampro. "She lost her friends and, due to her health, eventually dropped out of high school."
Lampro says her sister managed to live with Type 1 and its complications, which included poor eyesight and loss of circulation to her extremities. Alden-Terranova would marry and have her own painting and stenciling business, Country Heart, that she later combined with her father's woodworking skills to form Country Heart Workshop.
However, in early 2003, Alden-Terranova's health began to deteriorate, resulting in her left leg being amputated below the knee. She was awaiting a heart, liver and kidney transplant when she died in 2003, two days before Thanksgiving.
Lampro initially burned off the "anger" over her sister's death by raising money to fight breast cancer. In 2010, she came across a pamphlet on "Ride to Cure," bought her distance-riding bicycle and has logged more than 7,000 miles biking to fight Type 1 diabetes.
And the mother of three grown daughters -- and a grandson on the way -- plans to keep riding for a cure, indefinitely.
"As long as the support from the community is there, I'll keep going," she said. "Training is the easy part, riding is the easy part, living with Type 1 diabetes, that's the hardest challenge of all."
To reach Dick Lindsay:
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