Whitehorse family to cycle Quebec for diabetes cure

Whitehorse’s Mather-Dugas family has their vacation plans all laid out. The clan is not heading south to sun and surf or taking a cruise, but they will be cruising – across the province of Quebec.

Whitehorse’s Mather-Dugas family has their vacation plans all laid out. The clan is not heading south to sun and surf or taking a cruise, but they will be cruising – across the province of Quebec.

The Mather-Dugas clan will take part in the Cyclebetes National Relay to raise money to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes, commonly known as juvenile diabetes. For mother Nathalie and son Liam,

9, it will be the second year in a row joining the Quebec team, making the 720-kilometre trip from the New Brunswick border to Ontario.

“I’m from Quebec and the relay doesn’t come through the Yukon,” said Nathalie Mather-Dugas. “Last year, something that was pretty neat was, we did Quebec and we flew back home and the kids

went back to school while the team carried on. Then Liam and I flew back to Vancouver to meet them in Victoria to finish with them, which was neat as well – we were part of the finishing crew last


Joining Nathalie and Liam, who was diagnosed with the disease as an infant, is father Sean and son Sam, 6, who will take shifts riding a tandem bike.

“We’re going back to do it again – it was so much fun,” said Mather-Dugas. “The whole family is going this time, so even our six-year-old will ride with his dad on the tandem and Liam is going to

ride with me.”

The cross-country, tandem bike relay, which stretches from the East Coast to the West with teams in each province, began with a promise from a BC father to his daughter. Three years ago

Victoria’s Kyle Balagno told his daughter Taylor, who has juvenile diabetes, that he would do everything within his power to find a cure by the time she graduates high school. To raise money,

Balagno and four friends relayed across Canada, crossing the country in eight days, setting a Guinness world record in the process, and raising $800,000 for diabetes research.

“Our original plan was to do it in nine, but we did it in eight,” said Balagno in an interview with the News last year. “It was such a phenomenal experience, and we were so successful and pleased

with what we did, we didn’t want to let that event just end—we wanted to create a legacy and that’s where Cyclebetes was born.”

As part of a larger Quebec team last year, Nathalie and Liam cycled between 80 and 100 kilometres a day for three days, raising $10,000 – twice as much as they originally hoped.

“It was really fast. We’d ride and then somebody else would ride,” said Mather-Dugas. “We did an hour shift at a time and then we got off the bike and supported the other people on the bike. We

did about three shifts a day, so, like, 30 kilometres an hour.”

Last year, not only was Liam the youngest rider on the Quebec team, but the youngest in the entire relay.

“He did really well last year,” said Mather-Dugas. “He was a really strong little champion.

“Most of the people were adults or teenagers, and Liam was eight last year. So he was by far the youngest.”

The family is hoping to match their total from last year during the Quebec leg, which will be completed August 17 and 20.

“If people want to support us, it goes to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation,” said Mather-Dugas. “We’re hoping to raise the same amount as last year. It’s looking pretty good – I think we are

at about 30 per cent right now.”

Juvenile diabetes, otherwise called insulin-dependant diabetes, results from the pancreas’ inability to produce insulin, a hormone that distributes glucose into the body’s cells to give them energy.

The removal of the insulin results in glucose remaining in the blood where it can endanger the health of the heart, kidneys, eyes, nerves, gums and teeth.

An estimated 246 million people worldwide – mostly children – have the disease and numbers are expected to increase to 380 million by 2025. On average juvenile diabetes lowers a person’s life

expectancy by 15 years.

Those wishing to sponsor the Mather-Dugas family can do so by visiting cyclebetes.com, clicking on “Meet the Teams,” and following the Quebec team’s link to each of the Mather-Dugas pages.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com