Fighting diabetes through the 'Tour de Cure'

HOME (Download Image) Each year, Lawrence Livermore employee Melanee Scarborough helps to plan and organize one of the American Diabetes Association’s highest grossing annual fundraisers: the Tour de Cure.


Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles about Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory employees who volunteer for various nonprofit agencies. Many of these agencies are available for employees to donate through the Helping Others More Effectively (HOME) Campaign.


Melanee Scarborough is an administrative assistant to the Micro and Nano Technology Section of the Materials Engineering Division (MED) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), but outside of the office you can find her planning and organizing one the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) highest grossing annual fundraisers.


The Tour de Cure, which Scarborough volunteers for every year, is an annual bicycle ride that takes place in locations all across the country and raises money for the ADA. In addition to raising funds, the event also aims to raise awareness. The proceeds of the ride go toward promoting education and outreach surrounding diabetes, as well as funding research toward cures for the disease. Diabetes is the seventh most deadly disease in the United States  -- 29 million American adults have diabetes and another 86 million have pre-diabetes, so raising awareness about the nature of the disease, as well as prevention and treatment, is a central goal of the ADA.

Scarborough, who helps organize the Tour de Cure that takes place in Napa, said, "Our Napa Tour de Cure is the No. 1 fundraiser for ADA in the country. We’ve raised over $1 million every year for the past 19 years, so it’s a very effective event. Seventy-five percent of all the funds raised go directly to the cause, so it’s an event that I’m very proud to be a part of -- but one that certainly takes a lot of planning."

Scarborough got involved in the organization eight years ago when she went along with "a guy she had just started to date" and some of his friends to an ADA event. Fast forward those eight years, and Scarborough and her fellow volunteer are now engaged, and they help put the event together every year. "It serves as a kind of anniversary for us," said Scarborough, "and it’s something we really enjoy getting to do together."

Scarborough now sits on the planning committee as the program chair for the ADA’s Tour de Cure. "My job is everything that makes the event happen; from product procurement, sponsorships, entertainment, VIP and team tent events, kids zone and site logistics. I also handle the gala dinner event that is held the night before for our participants who have raised $1,000 or more for our event, and I put together the kickoff event, which is a big welcome to all the participants and volunteers to get everyone into the riding spirit."

The ADA and its mission are close to Scarborough’s heart for many reasons. Both she and her fiancé have lost loved ones to the disease, and she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. "I’m really invested in fighting the stigma around Type 2 diabetes in particular -- people have misconceptions and make assumptions about those diagnosed with Type 2, and that just hinders our progress in fighting diabetes. It’s important to raise awareness and have open discussion about the nature of the disease so we can all be on the same page and move forward together."


Scarborough also thinks it’s essential to find a passion outside of work. In her words, "Passion drives success, and if you have passion for what you do, you will want to see it succeed, whether in the workplace or in a volunteer space.

"My fiancée and I found love through working this event," said Scarborough. "I’ve met great people and formed wonderful friendships, and it means so much to me that I get to make a difference in the lives of people with this disease. Every sponsor that I get, every person that signs up to be a part of this event, each of them is one more step toward finding a cure. It’s more money that can help educate people about the disease, about how to manage their illness and how to help family members that have diabetes. And beyond that, it’s a social event that helps bring supporters -- both with and without the disease -- together in a safe, fun, family friendly day to work together for a common goal."