Bike Beyond at Chester, PA Firehouse

WRITTEN BY: Michelle Berman

When we learned that the Bike Beyond Team was crossing through a city near us in Pennsylvania, my son and I wanted to meet the team and cheer them on. Despite the fact it was high school finals study week, I decided this was a once-in-lifetime opportunity for my 16-year -old son, Jon, to meet others living beyond Type 1 diabetes by cycling across the country to raise awareness and funds. Little did I realize how much the evening would impact both of us in such a positive way.

Before we arrived, we contacted sweet Cassidy, one of the riders and the team coordinator that week. We asked if the team needed anything. Her reply: Thank you so much! Blister pads, band aids, nuts and Gatorade powder.  Immediately upon reading, “blister pads” the reality of what these amazing souls were doing sunk in for us. We made a market run, put on our DKA awareness shirts in solidarity, and used our car navigation system to find the team at the City of Chester Firehouse. When we arrived the van crew was settling into the Chester, Pennsylvania Firehouse and being well taken care of by the the Mayor, City Council Members, Rotary Club members and firemen.

Meeting the AMAZING mom and daughter cycling duo, Cheryl and Abby P. was incredibly inspirational. Their bond, their inability to sit and relax until every single team member had safely arrived, their dedication to map out the journey for the next day, making sure to avoid highways and find safe roads — made it easy to see the team was already becoming a family.

They suggested we greet the team with the firetruck sirens. We had so much fun welcoming the team riding into town on their bikes with sirens and horns blaring. I then had an opportunity to meet Helen and Abbey B. during our market run for dinner items. I couldn’t believe their energy level and excitement after cycling all day. They shared about having just met their teammates in New York City, their family and friends and goals during the summer as well as after the ride and how much they were looking forward to meeting families and children across the country and raising awareness about T1D.

When we returned, I met Amanda, who had gotten straight off her bike and instantly stepped into full-on fireman gear (including putting a tank on her back)! Talk about living in the moment and making the most of her experience every pedal of the way! Meanwhile my son was spending time inside the firehouse with the team, sharing about his experience with T1D and his summer plans to be a CIT at camp. Immediately Perri and Jesse came over and connected with Jon about their past experiences and love of Camp Joslin and Clara Barton. What a small world (or wonderful world of T1D connections).


They told Jon that he was going to have an awesome time as a CIT. Everyone made Jon feel comfortable and welcomed. Amongst all of the Dexcom CGM alarms going off and insulin dosing, we all chatted about what was sure to be an epic journey across the country for each of them. The team even asked for DKA awareness  flyers to hand out at meet and greets!

Learning that they had slept in tents the night before and were sleeping in the Firehouse that night, Jon noted that being there reminded him of  the comfort and closeness of being at camp, with everyone’s alarms going off and making sure others were okay treating their lows or correcting their highs. It was also great to meet Kevin, Ricky, Meagan, Sid, Ryan, Elliot,  Matt and Jordan. They all gave great T1D advice to Jon and encouraged him to follow his dreams.

Jon also enjoyed meeting Cassidy and sharing their stories about Kobe Bryant and learning when Cassidy was diagnosed and how far she has come since diagnosis. Everyone was so friendly. As luck would have it the last team to come in experienced a flat tire so the van crew went to their rescue. We were unable to spend time with Walt, Sierra, Mel, Silvi and Emily. But we were so happy to hear they arrived!

We were also quite impressed with the kindness of the firemen and welcoming committee at the Chester Firehouse. When we got in the car more than three hours after our arrival, my son said, “Thanks, Mom. That was so cool to meet the team. I can’t believe what they are doing and each one of them has Type 1 diabetes. I guess it’s true, we really can do anything we put our minds to. It’s so cool they will have each other to rely on the whole way across the country.”

Well team Bike  Beyond, mission accomplished in PA! We will always remember meeting each one of you!  Thank you for making a difference in the lives of others. Cheryl even inspired me to get on a bike as much as possible this summer. Because, let’s face it, moms of kids with Type 1 need exercise (and manicures too). A great reminder to take care of ourselves while taking care of and supporting our kids with T1D.

Jon continues to track the team on social media, counting how many flat tires and tire changes it takes to cross the country on a bicycle all while managing life with T1D! He asked me to send him a picture when the team crosses the finish line because he will still be away at camp! My son may have missed a night of studying but he learned the true meaning of community, the true meaning of being inspired and the true meaning of what can be accomplished as a team who follows their dreams (with or without T1D). Thank you, team Bike Beyond, for the meaningful and inspirational life long lessons you taught us the night we met you!

Learn more about Bike Beyond.

Michelle Berman

Michelle's son Jonathan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2007 at the age of 7, without any family history. With a background in Business Administration and Real Estate, Michelle became involved with various diabetes organizations including The Diabetes Research Institute where she helped her son develop the DRI online “Store for a Cure” as well as many other projects. Michelle was further inspired to engage the public to learn more about T1D, thus creating T1DLIFE on social media, as a place to share photos and stories about all aspects of life with T1D. In the summer of 2016, Michelle became the national parent advocate for the BT1 DKA awareness campaign with a goal to educate families and physicians to help eradicate new onset DKA and save lives. Her favorite quote and mantra to all three of her children is… "be part of the change you wish to see in the world."