Man Plans U.S. Bike Tour for Diabetes

Contributing Writer

READY TO RIDE: Curtis Diggs plans to ride his motorcycle through the 48 lower states as a fund-raiser for the American Diabetes Association.

GTR Newspapers photo

All in all it’s not a bad problem to have.

Curtis Diggs is 20-years-old, unmarried, unfettered, with money in the bank and a brand new Kawasaki motorcycle to tool around in. He’s planning a trip for next September. But here’s what appears as a young man’s wanderlust begins to take on added dimensions.

Curtis wants to hit all of the lower 48 states. He wants to carry a message: Guard against diabetes. Does Curtis have diabetes? No! Why then a trek that will cost him thousands of dollars and at least half a year of his life?

“My father has been fighting the disease for the last 13 years. He has been taking care of himself and is in pretty good health but I would like to do something to keep others from getting the disease. I love my father to death. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him.”

Curtis had been kicking the idea around for a couple of years, but it took the death of his grandfather to spur him into action. Realizing time could be short he made up his mind to put the ride on the front burner.

He has gotten help from Ann Richards Ketcham, executive director of the Eastern Oklahoma area of the American Diabetes Association. “We’ve met several times,” says Ketcham. “We’ve provided him with research materials and we can give him introductions to diabetes associations around the country.

“We’re going to help set up interviews with radio stations, television stations and newspapers. He’s going to take along a seven-question test to see if people are in a high-risk category for diabetes. We hope people will answer the questions he’ll ask over the air and, if they feel they are in a high-risk category they’ll go get a simple blood test. There are millions of people who have diabetes and don’t know it or what they can do to slow its effects.”

The trip via motorcycle fits in perfectly with Curtis’ life to date. He decided in high school that motorcycles were his passion and while he was getting his high school degree from Memorial High School he was also getting a degree in motorcycle technology from Tulsa Technology Center.

He got a job at Kinetic Playground where he loves to give custom paint jobs to cycles of every make. He also works at Home Depot and says the support he has gotten for his plan from both jobs has been awesome.

“This is an ideal time for me to make this trip,” he says. “I’m young, and I’m in a space where if I fail I can come back up.”

He is now simply in the preliminary planning stage for his trip. He doesn’t have an itinerary worked out yet, and he is just now beginning to make the necessary connections for the interviews he hopes will lead to diabetes discovery or prevention. He is trying to get some help financially but figures he’ll have to carry most of that load himself.

“I have gotten some assistance. I’m talking to Kawasaki and the Shoei Corp sent me a helmet and some stickers for my motorcycle. Through my motorcycle connections in Tulsa I’m putting together a support group with repair materials if I should need them.

His Kawasaki 2X12R is a sleek looking machine but as he showed it to this reporter there didn’t seem to be enough storage space for a handkerchief, much less enough clothes for a six-months trek.

“When I get the saddlebags on and the whole thing fully outfitted you’d be amazed at what I’ll be able to carry.”

Ketcham can help by sending promotional materials ahead so at least he won’t be encumbered by having to carry excess papers.

One last question: Why start in September? Riding a motorcycle through the Dakotas with a brisk wind-chill factor of 70 below sounds a little daunting.

“I’ll carry a heat suit,” says Curtis. “You just plug it into the engine and it will keep you nice and warm.”

He seems to have an answer for every question.
Wish him luck!

Diggs can be reached at (918) 282-2442.

Updated 10-26-2005

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