By Rob Potter
CALLICOON Dan Billard of Narrowsburg, who is 80 years young, has always enjoyed running, bicycling and other activities to maintain a good level of physical fitness.
Currently, Billard, who is also known as “Dancin’ Dan,” is training for an endurance bicycling event. And he is doing so for a cause near and dear to his heart.
On Saturday, July 30 in Burlington, Vt., Billard will be among dozens competing in the Ride to Cure Diabetes in support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Those athletes will be cycling for 64 miles through mountainous terrain.
Billard is riding for his grandson, 16-year-old Richard Lander, and his son-in-law, Rick Lander. Both Rick and Richard live with diabetes. Rick Lander has been doing so for 28 years, while Richard was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 13.
“They are both top-notch people,” Dan Billard said of Rick and Richard.
Billard said he is training for 1 and 1/2 to two hours a day for the Ride to Cure Diabetes.
Dan also has a pair of custom-made shoes which help his feet stay on the pedals throughout the ride.
“You feel as though the bike is attached to you,” he said.
Originally, Dan Billard was hoping to raise $2,000 for the Ride to Cure Diabetes. But thanks to the generosity of so many people, more than $4,200 had been raised as of May 3.
Of course, the outpouring of community support is very much appreciated by Dan and Flo Billard and their daughter Lisa Lander, who is Rick’s wife and Richard’s mother. (Dan and Flo Billard have three other children, Lynn, Lionel and Brenda.)
Richard Lander offered some comments about the Ride to Cure Diabetes and how supportive the local community has been.
“The first thing is that the race makes me very proud to live in a community that is so generous and thoughtful about others,” he said. “So many people have made donations to help diabetes research and it means a lot to me and my family. Secondly, the race has made me so proud of my grandfather and makes me very thankful to have him as a part of my life.
“Also, the Ride to Cure Diabetes gives me hope that some day there may really be a cure for diabetes and I may not have to live everyday attached to an insulin pump and a blood sugar machine.”