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Officer crossing Death Valley to help diabetics
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Ripon Police motorcycle officer Steve Meece is deadly serious about his support for the Diabetes Foundation and its support of young children who contract the Type-1 disease. - photo by GLENN KAHL

RIPON — Ride to Cure Diabetes  - a fund raising effort designed to help those afflicted with diabetes is planning two bicycling events – one in Death Valley and the other around Lake Tahoe.

Riders have three levels of donations to participate: $2,000, $3,000 and $4,000.

Stephen Meece brought the fundraiser into focus for Ripon Rotarians Wednesday noon at the Barnwood Restaurant when he told of how the disease has impacted his family when his 11-year-old daughter Haley suddenly came down with the type 1 diabetes when she was little more than a toddler.  Now a coach with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF), he will be riding 105 miles in Death Valley and another 72 miles around Lake Tahoe.

Meece, a traffic officer for the Ripon Police Department,  has devoted countless off-duty hours fighting for a cure for the disease that has afflicted his daughter since she was 4 years old. He has been raising funds by riding and as well as selling tickets outside a Ripon market for a bicycle provided by George Ingerson of George’s Bike Shop in Ripon. 

Meece, Ingerson and Mike Cardoso make up a team of three riders that plan to bring in a total of $7,000 in donations for the fund raiser – raising $2,000 in the last week alone.   The trio is also involved in a fundraising Black Oak Casino bus trip on Saturday, Aug. 18.  The 50-passenger bus has 20 open seats as of Wednesday.

Type-1 diabetes is an auto immune disease where the body starts fighting itself, he said. The officer recalled the shock of his life that came when he was working at Caswell State Park years ago as a ranger, getting a call that his daughter had been rushed to the hospital after losing consciousness from the diabetes – the first sign of the disease.

Meece said he responded to the Modesto hospital to get to his daughter’s side as quickly as possible,  fearing the worst with her in a sudden coma in what amounted to a traumatic crossroads for Meece and his wife Kristen.

While Haley still has to monitor her sugar intake and insulin levels several times daily, there is nothing she can’t do compared to other children her age, Meece said.  She is an A-student and student body vice-president at her school.

Every time she eats, she has to do a finger stick, Meece said of his daughter, who had a blood sugar above 400 last week with a level of 125 being normal.  Haley finally leveled out, he said.  Meece explained that the most critical time of the day for diabetics is within an hour after eating when extreme exercising can result in a diabetic coma.

He told of a motorist several years ago who became disoriented with his diabetes and ended up driving down the wrong direction on the Highway 120 Bypass.

Meece noted that those suffering from diabetes usually have a warning sign such as a stomach ache or by wanting an excess amount of water at any given moment.  He also noted that there are service dogs trained to alert patients through a telltale scent indicating that the blood sugar level is dropping, especially in a child.

The cost of the casino bus trip is $35. That includes drinks, hors d’oeuvres and $30 worth of Black Oak freebies.  The bus is scheduled to leave the Ripon Save Mart parking lot at noon on Saturday, Aug.18 – with five hours to spend at the casino – and will leave to return to Ripon at 8 p.m.

Tickets for the casino trip can be had by calling Mike Cardoso at (209) 614-1977.

Those wishing to make personal or business donations to help find a cure with diabetes research can email Meece at