Diabetes is not holding Sequim student back

Ryan Hurst with his new road bike from sponsor Ben’s Bike. Hurst will ride in a 25-mile cycling event to show support for all persons living with diabetes and in honor of his godfather who died in 2012 from Type 1 diabetes.  - Submitted photo
Ryan Hurst with his new road bike from sponsor Ben’s Bike. Hurst will ride in a 25-mile cycling event to show support for all persons living with diabetes and in honor of his godfather who died in 2012 from Type 1 diabetes.
— image credit: Submitted photo

On May 10, Sequim High School sophomore Ryan Hurst is participating in Seattle’s Tour de Cure for his first time. Hurst registered to ride a 25-mile-long route along the Sammamish River and Lake Washington to show his support for those living with diabetes and in memory of his godfather who lost his life to Type 1 diabetes in 2012.

The Tour de Cure is a series of bicycling events held in 44 states to benefit and raise funds for the American Diabetes Association. This year’s Seattle Tour de Cure begins at Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville with routes ranging from 10 to 100 mile distances.

“Fundraisers like this are so important to continue research and to further education,” Hurst’s mother and public health manager at Clallam County Health and Human Services Christina Hurst said.”In about five years an artificial pancreas is expected to be possible.”

The 2014 Seattle Tour de Cure goal is to raise $500,000; thus far Hurst has raised approximately $500 of that goal.


Life for Hurst forever changed Jan. 5, 2012, when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. This diagnosis meant his pancreas cannot produce any insulin.

“Its been hard, but it’s getting easier I guess,” he said. “One of the hardest parts is managing my blood sugar.”

Hurst explained how he has learned to carry everything needed to monitor and control his blood sugar at all times. Without proper management his blood sugar can go too high or too low within a matter of hours and result in serious medical conditions or a diabetic coma.

Since diagnoses he has been hospitalized twice because of too high of blood sugar levels.

“Dealing with Type 1 diabetes is a 24-hour seven days a week responsibility,” Christina Hurst said. “Every time you put something in your mouth, you need to think about what the carbohydrate count is and how much insulin you need to be able to process it.”

Because of the tireless nature of Type 1 diabetes, Hurst’s biggest challenge is to not burn out mentally from the constant attention Type 1 diabetes demands, explained Christina Hurst.

Looking to the future

Though the past two years since Hurst’s diagnosis have been and continue to be a life altering challenge for him and those around him, he and his mother look forward to what future technology may bring.

For instance, Hurst recently completed a clinical trial for a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). A CGM is able to monitor blood sugar levels every couple of minutes without human intervention.

Currently, the two sides of the equation (insulin pump and blood sugar sensor) needed to create an artificial pancreas are available, explained Hurst’s doctor from Seattle Children’s Hospital, Dr. Craig Taplin, who also is assistant professor of pediatrics at University of Washington. Taplin further explained the current challenge is getting the two sides of the equation to interact so the CGM communicates to an insulin pump, which then adjust insulin levels automatically.

“My goal is to get an artificial pancreas,” Hurst said.

Despite the constant learning curve he is faced with while adjusting to life with Type 1 diabetes, he continues to aspire toward his interests.

“I start at PC (Peninsula College) for welding in September,” Hurst said. “I want to either be an underwater or marine welder.”

Along with his academic endeavors, he likes to play sports. He especially likes football and golf.

“Sometimes it’s hard to remember to check my blood sugar when I’m hanging out with friends or playing football, but my friends have been really supportive and try to help me,” Hurst said.

Local support and preparation

Hurst is involved with a teen diabetes support group in Seattle, as well as the Clallam County Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) Education and Support Group.

“There’s not enough support here locally,” Christina Hurst said. “That’s why we’re working very hard to get this group going.”

School nurse for the Sequim School District Sonya Bittner and her team of three recognize Type 1 diabetes as a significant health concern and feel staff education is needed.

In order to help students like Hurst and to better her understanding of the disease Bittner often attends the Clallam Country T1D Education and Support Group.

“Safety at the school is a priority so learning new and even repeated information is always helpful,” Bittner said. “Especially with diabetes because the disease may not be changing, but our ability to respond to it does.”

The Clallam County T1D Diabetes Education and Support Group and Ben’s Bikes are sponsoring Hurst in the Seattle Tour de Cure.

Freshly equipped with a new Giant Escape City road bike and gear from Ben’s Bikes, Hurst has been riding to and from school to train for the Tour de Cure.

“I picked the 25-mile route because according to the terrain explanations this route sounded a lot like Sequim,” he said.

Hurst’s ride from school along the Olympic Discovery Trail is roughly 10 miles one-way; thus riding 25 miles shouldn’t be much different from what he already does every school day.

“It’s a great thing Ryan is involved with the Tour de Cure,” Taplin said. “It will help show himself as well as others what’s still possible despite having Type 1 diabetes and help to improve and continue our research and ultimately a cure.”

Contact Christina Hurst at for the link to made an online donation or call 360-670-2020 to make a donation payable by check. Checks can be written to the American Diabetes Association.


Seattle Tour de Cure

When: May 10

Where: Chateau Ste. Michelle. 14111 N.E 145th St. Woodinville

Cost: Registration fee $35

More info: visit or contact event manager Angela Hill at or 206-282-4616 ext. 7203


Reach Alana Linderoth at


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