EAST MANATEE -- Scores of bicyclists will be on the streets of Lakewood Ranch Sunday as they pedal to raise funds for the American Diabetes Association.
The Cure de Tour starts at 7 a.m., with cyclists riding from 10 to 100 miles. Teams of all ages ranging in size from 10 to 40 participants signed up for various legs of the ride, which meanders throughout eastern Manatee County including Lakewood Ranch neighborhoods and country roads.
Some bikers will be competing against their own personal best times, however, others simply participate for the pleasure of the ride and to support the cause, according to Paul Troyer, leader of the Village Idiots team.
"We ride for Village Bikes in Lakewood Ranch, so we decided to call ourselves the Village Idiots. There are 40 or 50 on our team," said Troyer, who has been participating in the event for about five years.
His is one of the largest teams, raising $17,775 this year. "It would be really sweet if we could hit $20,000," he said. "I personally raised $1,200 and hope to hit $1,300 by Sunday. I've been emailing friends and family, using my Facebook status, twittering, anything I can do to get the word out."
"We raised around $180,000 last year and we are on track to raise $250,000 this year. We expect over 800 riders along with family members, friends, vendors, sponsors and volunteers," said Melissa Parsons, fund raiser and special events manager for the American Diabetes Association in Tampa.
"Lakewood Ranch is a beautiful destination ride for people from all over Southwest Florida and other parts of the country. Lakewood Ranch is central to the area that we serve. The Tampa office serves from Brooksville to Naples," Parsons said.
Troyer first became aware of the seriousness of diabetes when his college roommate, his cousin Rolly Troyer of Sarasota, was insulin-dependent. "For me it's been a long story. I woke up every morning and saw him giving himself his shot."
Today, the disease has touched his family, including his grandson, mother and sister-in-law.
His wife, Traci Troyer, leads her own biking team in the event for people from her office, StanTec in Lakewood Ranch.
"She organized a chili cook-off and also arranged for a $5 jeans-on-Friday donation day at work," said Troyer. As a result she can expect to contribute about $1,100 toward the $2,500 her team of about 10 riders has raised.
The event will take place rain or shine, according to Parsons.
"It's really fun and it's one of those events where if you do it one time, you're really excited to do it again," said Troyer, who works as an IT manager for Tropice Software and Technologies. "It's a lot of fun. The money goes to a good cause. We have breakfast beforehand and there is a lot of food. It's great!"
The race wraps up between noon and 3 p.m. "It's a great party and we love to have the public come out and welcome riders back," Troyer said. "People can make donations all up until the end of May."
The day of the race, those who wish to contribute may contact any of the riders. To reach the Village Idiots, contact Village Bikes at 941-388-0550.
Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7072, or tweet@DeeGrahamBH.