When Sarah finally talked her partner Andrew into signing up for JDRF One Ride, she didn’t let on that it would be an annual event for the couple. Nor did they imagine it would come to mark a milestone they’ll celebrate forever! That was eight years ago, and the two are returning for their ninth crack at the Barossa in 2018.
One of the highlights for Sarah and Andrew is seeing their ‘Ride family’ again each year. And, since 2012 the event has taken on even more meaning. The couple decided to throw a surprise wedding ceremony at the Ride that year.
“I half-jokingly suggested it to Andrew, and was surprised that he was actually super keen!” said Sarah.
Sarah, who lives with type 1 diabetes, is always dressed as a purple jelly baby at JDRF One Walk. So, she carried this theme through to her wedding planning.
“I wore a purple dress, had purple hair, purple nails, purple top…”
Meanwhile, JDRF staff got to work helping the couple keep preparations secret.
After all the Riders had finished the course and were enjoying some downtime, Sarah and Andrew made their way to the hotel’s giant chessboard by the pool. There, a celebrant married the pair, witnessed by JDRF’s CEO, Mike Wilson. They then celebrated with all riders with a Western-themed dinner!
As you can imagine, the couple enjoy reminiscing each year when they return to the Barossa Valley for the Ride. Until 2016, One Ride was in January, so it doubled as their wedding anniversary.
After some trial and error in the early years, the couple now have fundraising down to an art. They know what works for them, and they spread their fundraising – and training – across the year. They’ve had success with Bunnings BBQs on ANZAC Day, although they count themselves lucky with securing this as some stores are booked out almost two years in advance! The duo also source Coles supermarket vouchers to help keep the BBQ costs down.
Sarah and Andrew do a lot of walking up and down key shopping strips in Melbourne, like Brunswick Street, to ask for prize donations for their annual trivia night. The key to their success is to keep going, despite copping a lot of cold rejection!
“Sometimes it is a stress to get all the fundraising done, as our Ride team is just me and Andrew, but I wouldn’t change it.”
On the Ride day itself, there are a few extra steps Sarah takes to manage her type 1 diabetes, including stocks of jelly babies and making the most of the supplies at the rest stations!
“I’ve had the insulin pump battery die on me in the middle of the ride, which is not fun I can tell you that! I had the spare battery but I didn’t have a coin to open the pump! Thankfully, someone at the aid station had a five cent coin!”
As well as a big breakfast to keep herself going, Sarah relies on Andrew for support to get to the finish line.
“He encourages me up the hill when I feel like I don’t have it in me, and he always supports me — occasionally with a helping hand for those steep hills. I wish there was a little tram track that I could click in and out of in order to get up Mengler’s hill!”
We keep on doing it, because the ride is a big part of our lives. Every year we go, we remember our amazing wedding, and the fact that we are contributing to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes.”
How you can support
You can donate to Sarah and Andrew’s Ride team via their online fundraising page or if you feel like a challenge, join JDRF One Ride yourself.