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Bike rider for a great cause

Jack Rising has goal of helping diabetics succeed in sports


by: TIDINGS, REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Jack Rising poses for a portrait with his beloved Focus Cayo racing bike. Bike racing is in Rising’s future for the rest of his life.Jack Rising wants other people who suffer from juvenile diabetes to know something — they can become successful athletes.

Rising has been proving this to himself for quite a while. The 17-year-old senior at Lake Oswego High School is an excellent cyclist and getting better all the time. He is a state champion and a member of Team Oregon.

Rising is also a self-admitted computer nerd, and he is using the combination of his talents to help other people.

“I wanted to somehow help other people with diabetes,” Rising said. “I want them to know they can be successful athletes. ... When they check the website I would hope they say, ‘Hey, I saw an article!’ Maybe it will help kids realize they aren’t limited by disease.”

Diabetes has never limited Rising, but it did send a shock wave through his family when he was born.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: MAGGIE EDWARDS - Left: Jack Rising, wearing gray, is shown right in the middle of a pack of racers at Portland International Raceway in June.“It was devastating, definitely,” said his mother, Maggie Edwards. “He was my first child and was only an infant. There was no history of diabetes on either side of the family. Still, as a parent I wanted my child to have as normal a life as possible.”

Rising has Type 1 diabetes — an auto immune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks itself. Control of the disease is completely insulin dependent.

Yet little Rising did not notice what a bad break life had given to him.

“When Jack was two years old he came into the kitchen and asked where the pliers were,” Edwards said. “He wanted to take the training wheels off his bicycle. He just took off and soon he was barreling down the cul-de-sac. He had a great sense of balance.”

“I’ve played sports all of my life,” Rising said. “It was inevitable. I’ve never known anything different.”

For a long time, Rising’s sport of preference was soccer. But when he entered Lake Oswego High School things changed.

“I bought a bike before my freshman year of high school,” Rising said. “I joined the cycling club and there were two guys from the Fred Meyer Cycling Team. After our first race I knew I loved it.”

Still, Rising faces more risks than the normal athlete. His mom is especially alert to them.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: MAGGIE EDWARDS - Jack Rising, center, looks to make a move out of the pack at the Portland International Raceway earlier this summer.“It’s an auto immune disease, so it’s tricky,” Edwards said. “There’s an inherent risk being an athlete out there for hours and making sure your blood sugar is at the right level. It’s like keeping a campfire at just the right level.”

“It’s reasonably simple, but there are maybe half a dozen factors involved,” Rising said. “Even the weather. But there’s something really nice. I can wear my insulin pump all the time, and that makes cycling a lot more simple compared to other sports. A whole number of things can happen without the pump.”

Edwards said although Rising can’t pull over and check his blood, he has a glucose sensor that monitors his blood sugar.

“It’s nice to have that sensor,” she said.

Although competition is never a simple matter for Rising, he does have some key advantages. Both of his parents are avid cyclists (like her son, Edwards is a member of a race team), and Edwards bought him a fantastic bike two years ago — a Focus Cayo.

“It’s insane, that bike!” Rising said. “It’s so light weight. It cost $2,600 but it’s worth $5,600.”

Rising has also found a cycling mentor who conquered juvenile diabetes through cycling. His mentor, Pratt Rather, introduced him to the glucose sensor when he was a sophomore in high school. Rather is now a resident of Bend, but still calls to offer Rising advice.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: MAGGIE EDWARDS - Jack Rising proved at an early age that juvenile diabetes was not going to stop him from being an athlete. He is shown here at age 2 1/2, just before the training wheels were taken off his bicycle.Rising spent this past summer in the cycling-crazy nation of Spain, where he trained with Olympic Gold Medalist Dori Ruano.

“She taught me so many things,” Rising said. “She found me people to train with.”

Ruano rebuffed any attempts to reward her.

“I sent her gifts and she refused all of them,” Edwards said.

“I tried my best,” Rising added.

Maybe Rising is repaying Ruano by passing on his own expertise on the new website. In addition, he plans to keep on pedaling. After his senior year he plans to study medicine and keep on cycling — possibly racing in a collegiate league.

“I plan to continue to race the rest of my life,” Rising said. “I want to stay in Oregon. I like it.”

Rising has a website with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. For more information, or to make a donation, visit bakercityclassicfordiabetes.org.