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Diabetes puts Neumann in motion

December 27, 2006|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note: There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like ...

Meghan Neumann



Age: 27

Hometown: Hagerstown

Where would you see Neumann? The 1996 North Hagerstown High School graduate grew up in the North End and has been on the go since.

She earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Eastern Mennonite University in 2000, is working toward a master's degree in health care and will graduate from medical school at St. Matthew's University in Grand Cayman in August 2008.

While Neumann is on break from medical school, she is working as an obstetrics nurse at St. Agnes Hospital in Southwest Baltimore. In February, she will begin her hospital rotations at a hospital in Saginaw, Mich., with hopes of going to The Johns Hopkins Hospital for her residency.

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Neumann, who now lives in Waynesboro, Pa., said Grand Cayman was a great place to go to medical school, but Hurricane Ivan did to the Cayman Islands what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans. She and her fellow students were evacuated for two semesters and she continued her studies at St. Joseph's College in Maine.

In October, Neumann challenged herself by riding a bicycle in the Death Valley Ride to Cure Diabetes. It's a cause that's near to her heart, since she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 21.

She was one of 300 riders in the fundraiser. The ride is so popular that registration closed within two hours this year.

A friend, Lauren Lanning, who has done the ride for five years, persuaded Neumann to sign up. Lanning's daughter, Monica, was diagnosed with diabetes at age 2.

Lanning lives in Denver, so Neumann rode on the Rocky Mountain team with her.

To train for the ride, Neumann bought a road bike in February and said she "rode, rode and rode," while going to school in Maine. Her longest training ride was 75 miles.

Because of her own diabetes, she checked her blood sugar every five miles and said she felt well prepared for the ride.

What she hadn't prepared for, however, was her bike getting lost in transit. She shipped it to Las Vegas, where it was to be loaded on to a truck headed for the Death Valley ride.

To this day, Neumann's bike is still unaccounted for by DHL. She ended up borrowing a mountain bike, with no working third gear, the gear she needed for climbing hills.

The ride began at 180 feet below sea level, with a climb up to sea level, then down to the lowest point in the United States, Badwater, Calif., which is 282 feet below sea level. The temperature was 105 degrees.

Neumann said the windy conditions were some of the worst they'd ever had for the race. She said riding against a 40-knot head wind was tough and she was pleased to complete 50 miles of the 100-mile course. The majority of riders weren't able to finish the course this year.

"It was horrible and heartbreaking and wonderful, all at the same time," Neumann said. "I would like to do it again, on my own bike."

When she registered, Neumann committed to raising $3,500, but so far has only been able to raise $1,500.

She said she had already planned to go to medical school when she received her diabetes diagnosis.

"I guess it made me more aware of my body and myself," said Neumann, who has become an advocate for diabetes research.

She first got involved with Children with Diabetes and has helped at their conferences. In June, she took part in the American Diabetes Associations' Call to Congress, three days of meetings on Capitol Hill lobbying senators and congressional leaders for more money for diabetes research.

To help Neumann reach her fundraising goal, send checks (payable to JDRF) to National Ride Office: Ride to Cure Diabetes, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 110 Whiffle Tree Drive, Simpsonville, SC 29680. Indicate Meghan Neumann as the rider in the memo section.

Hobbies: Neumann enjoys playing field hockey, running, reading and "just having a good time."

If you know anyone in the community who might make an interesting Our Town feature, contact Janet Heim at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024, or send e-mail to janeth@herald-mail.com.

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