by ZEENA GREGG | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Twenty-three year old Jenny Vandevelde believes in living life to its fullest. A PQ native, she and her family (Lidia, Ken and sister Shelly, 20) love living close to the Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve because of its open spaces for biking and running. Jenny also plays soccer, wakeboards and snowboards.

Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 14, Jenny has not let her condition slow her down. “From day one I’ve been determined to be strong and not let diabetes get in my way of doing what I want to do,” said Jenny. In fact, she has made it her personal mission to raise money to find a cure for diabetes. “My ride is October 20, 2012 in Death Valley. Riders can choose courses between 36 and 105 miles. In 2006 I rode 58 miles. In 2007 I rode 66 miles. This year I am shooting for 90 miles,” mentioned Jenny. To train for the rigorous ride, Jenny and her dad bike twice a week and will do a couple of training rides in the summer to prepare for the extreme heat.

For Jenny, inspiration has come in different ways. When she was first diagnosed she was afraid of the unknown. “I had no idea what diabetes was. I didn’t know that there were two types,” explained Jenny, “I was scared that I could never play soccer or any other sports again.” So Jenny learned all about her disease and how to inject herself with insulin. At the age of 16 she volunteered at Camp Wana Kura for diabetic kids and at 18 became a camp counselor. “These kids and families that I meet every year – they are my inspiration. I want to help find a cure so that these kids see a cure in their lifetime,” said Jenny. Another source of inspiration is her grandmother, whom Jenny reached out to for strength when first diagnosed.

Jenny’s goal this year is to raise over $15,000 to help find a cure. “I want to do everything in my power to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes,” said Jenny.

To find out more or to donate, visit www2.jdrf.org/goto/JennyDeathValley.