Today’s To-Do: Find a Mentor
It’s common for someone with diabetes to not know anyone else with the condition. Diabetes can be a lonely way of life. Connecting with others, either in real life or digitally, can help with feelings of isolation and loneliness. Connecting with someone with the same dreams and goals can actually influence the direction of your life! Keep reading for how TNN athlete Mandy Marquardt influenced a young track cyclist from Washington and learn from her approach to finding the support she needed to live her best life!
McKenna McKee was diagnosed at the age of 6. As is the case for many people, McKenna didn’t know anyone else with diabetes. Her mom is a nurse and knows that exercise is important to proper diabetes management so, from the very beginning, physical activity was introduced into McKenna’s routine. Both of her parents are cyclists. McKenna’s mom even rode during her pregnancy! It seemed destined that McKenna would be a cyclist, too.
McKenna was first introduced to a bike at the age of 2 when her parents outfitted their tandem bike with a child’s stoker set-up. After her diagnosis 4 years later, The McKee Family began attending ADA Tour de Cure events. This is where she first met Lonny Knabe, an Elite Cyclist for Team Novo Nordisk. McKenna remembers thinking how cool it would be to be a member of a team made up of people who all have the same condition she has! From then on, being a track cyclist for TNN was McKenna’s goal.
For 8 years now, McKenna has been in contact with previous TNN rider and current Talent ID Camp Manager, Morgan Brown. In 2017, McKenna first met with TNN track cyclist Mandy Marquardt during the USA Track Cycling World Cup in California. Mandy is 15X national champion track cyclist and Olympic Hopeful. McKenna wants to be a world champion track cyclist and Olympic medalist. And, both live with type 1 diabetes. These two were meant for each other!
Mandy and McKenna correspond regularly. Of course, Mandy gives McKenna coaching advice. But, she also lends an ear when McKenna wants to talk to someone who can relate to being an athlete with diabetes. In early April, these two inspiring athletes held the first of what we hope will be many “Mandy and McKenna’s Mini Track Camps!” McKenna flew to Trexlertown, PA to train with Mandy and her training group, Edge Cycling, at her home track, The Valley Preferred Cycling Center. They trained together and McKenna had the chance to learn from Mandy how she balances training and racing at a high level with diabetes.
McKenna’s goals are lofty: to attend the TNN Talent ID Camp in the summer of 2019, win a World Championship, and compete in the 2024 Olympics in London. Well, thanks to her mentors from TNN, McKenna achieved that first goal when qualified for the TNN Talent ID Camp this summer!
McKenna takes inspiration from Mandy. Mandy helps her clarify her goals and the steps she needs to take to reach them. Mandy is proof that McKenna’s goals are reachable. McKenna is more confident in her ability to one day win a World Championship and an Olympic Gold Medal because Mandy has shown her how to do it. Mandy is exactly the mentor McKenna needs. Ironically, McKenna inspires Mandy, too. And, isn’t that just the best kind of relationship you can build?
Most of us don’t have goals of being Olympic athletes. But, we should all have dreams and aspirations of some kind to reach for. Take it upon yourself to find someone who has already done what you want to do…someone who has more experience than you with achieving those goals with diabetes. Don’t settle for a lonely lifestyle! Find YOUR mentor and be inspired!