Death Valley or Bust

Supposing that you read this on the morning that it was posted, I’m on my way to Las Vegas or already there. I’ll be spending the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon with Victoria, mon amie du sud. We first met around this time last year at Simonpalooza, and she convinced me to do a JDRF ride with her this year. We settled on Death Valley—as all you loyal readers and donors know—and the time for the ride is finally here. I’ve only seen Vegas before from the airport tarmac as we stopped to change passengers during a stopover on the way to visit Lisa’s parents many years ago. I’m looking forward to actually putting my feet on the ground and seeing this place that a friend once described as “the simulacrum of America,” a kind of tromp l’oeil painting of the American experience.

From there we head to Death Valley for a little orienting, hiking, and chilling out time at Furnace Creek on Friday before doing our 105 mile bike ride on Saturday. (The forecast high temperature has fallen by a degree to 99F, or 37C. Woo hoo!) I’ll write all about that after I get home.

Unlike the Twin Cities Tour de Cure, this ride so far has been much more about advocacy for me than anything else. I didn’t really ask for any money for the TdC ride, since I was primarily going to see friends and have a nice little ride. This JDRF ride, however, has much more aggressive fundraising requirements, so I started fundraising early and really put my heart and time (and a couple iTunes gift cards) into it. Also in the six months that I’ve been actively soliciting funds and preparing for the ride, I’ve talked about living with diabetes with many people who donated and who will be riding with me. (JDRF and the ADA are very different groups, and I’m curious to see what this ride is actually like as a person with diabetes. I’m holding back on making up my mind until after it’s all done, but it just has a very different feel so far.)

I’m so excited to say that I exceeded my initial fundraising goal of $3,000 . . . by a lot! As I’m writing this, generous people—friends, family, coworkers—and The MathWorks have contributed $12,125!! That’s over four times what I thought I could get. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for all of this support. Some of my biggest contributors were from close family and coworkers, but I also received a $500 donation from a fellow cyclist coworker who I don’t think I’ve ever met. There’s a lot of power in just asking everyone you know every couple months to give whatever they feel they can and in being pretty chill about it the rest of the time. (If you missed out on your opportunity to give, there’s still time.)

Because I had to keep track of all my coworkers’ donations in order to get matching funds—which totaled $5,520—and because I have a bit of a thing for numbers, I ended up with a fair bit of data. For my fellow number nerds quants out there, here are some details (excluding the matching funds).

  • Number of donations = 103
  • Total of all donations = $6,605
  • Total from current and former coworkers = $5,565
  • Average donation = $64.13
  • Median donation = $50 (of which there were 38)
  • On my best fundraising day, people gave $1,054

People donated anywhere between $5 and $500, and I’m just as appreciative of the smallest gifts as the largest. Someone donated $179 to help me meet my initial fundraising target. (I promptly raised the goal amount!) Another donor gave $36, because in Jewish mysticism multiples of 18 (or is it 9?) are considered especially blessed, because the letters associated with the numbers spell out the word for “life.”

Thank you, everyone, for helping to improve the lives of people with diabetes!

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5 Responses to Death Valley or Bust

  1. mary! says:

    have a super fun time!!

  2. StephenS says:

    Jeff, all the best on your ride. In case you didn’t know, you’re already a champion. Enjoy!

  3. Jess says:

    yay! that’s so awesome!

    i am so incredibly proud and in awe of you, victoria, and everyone else doing the ride. i cannot even imagine what it takes to get through that kind of ride. but i’ll be cheering you on in spirit the whole time!

  4. Jeff, this is so awesome! I’m so proud of you and all the rest of our buddies out there. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  5. victoria says:

    And conquer it, you did! You are a rockstar!!

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