Diabetes usually conjures images of needles and pinpricks, not bone-jarring hits or 3,000-mile bike rides. But that’s OK – Justin Mann has never let stereotypes define his life. Growing up, he had big dreams. Being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 6 did nothing to deter those dreams; he fought through adversity to become 6’4, 300 lbs of trouble, a D-1 athlete, and Scout Team Player of the Year during his freshman season as a walk-on at UCLA.
Now 27, with his quarterback chasing days behind him, Justin is ready to tackle a new challenge. Starting May 1st, he’ll be riding his bike from Seaside, Oregon to Hilton Head, South Carolina along with younger sister Ashtyn to raise money for diabetes research. Their goal is to raise $30,000 (about 10 cents a mile) and give it all to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, the world’s leading juvenile diabetes research organization.
It won’t be easy; the 3,300-mile trip across the country is a slog and Justin isn’t built quite like your typical biker. He’ll end the journey considerably lighter than he started and he might find himself in the process. The trip will be the longest obstacle he’s overcome, but not the biggest; that one he lives with every day. With Ashtyn at his side, Justin is determined to make his mark on this world; to leave it a better place than he found it, and to show diabetics everywhere that they can be just as good – or better – than everyone else.