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Oct 21, 2017 9:53 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Long Island Man Walks From Manhattan To Montauk to Raise Money For Type 1 Diabetes Research

Michael Ehrlich takes a break from his walk to Montauk in Southampton Village on Wednesday.  DANA SHAW
Oct 24, 2017 12:40 PM

Michael Ehrlich had walked more than 100 miles over three days through Wednesday, October 18, starting on the hard metropolitan pavement in Manhattan and proceeding through the grassy residential areas of Nassau County and beyond.

He’d barely slept, and his only forms of sustenance had been Cliff nutrition bars and water from a hydration pack. Even as he walked down Windmill Lane in Southampton Village on Wednesday morning, he still had more than 30 miles to go before reaching his destination: the Montauk Point Lighthouse.

But you wouldn’t know it from his sunny demeanor and the pep in his step.

Mr. Ehrlich, a resident of Setauket, was trekking on foot to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, to continue funding research for a cure for type 1 diabetes. Mr. Ehrlich’s fundraising efforts—he raised more than $26,000—were in honor of his 13-year-old daughter, Rachel, who was diagnosed last year with the serious autoimmune disease, which must be controlled with daily insulin shots.

Asked what the family’s reaction was when Rachel was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Mr. Ehrlich made a frowning face. He added that his daughter’s first question, with tears in her eyes, was whether she would ever be able to have ice cream again.

“She seemed to get better, until she saw the kit of needles come out and, understanding that was the new normal, as a kid who’s terrified of needles, is now going to have a needle poking her eight to 10 times a day for her future,” he said.

Mr. Ehrlich only took brief, intermittent breaks for quick naps or to sit under a tree to get some shade, ultimately arriving at the lighthouse on Thursday at precisely 6:12 a.m.

He had traveled as lightly as he could—with a water pack strapped to his back, a stick to shoo off any hostile critters, energy snacks, toilet paper, portable chargers for his cellphone, and a first aid kit. He used Google Maps and a Facebook page, Manhattan2Montauk, to allow supporters to track his progress the length of Long Island.

Mr. Ehrlich said he has two ideas to raise money next year: biking from Manhattan to Montreal, or taking a pedal boat to London.

“I just wanted to do my piece,” he said. “The treatments that are out now are here because someone raised money for the research to be done, and when you want to catch people’s attention, you do something outrageous.”

The idea for the walk came to Mr. Ehrlich two months ago on a train ride to the city. He said he lost 25 pounds from eating healthier and walking more to train for the event, eventually moving up from 15- and 20-mile walks to walks of 40 miles.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation helped him prepare for the walk.

“We have opportunities and web pages set up for people who want to set up their own fundraising events,” explained Jason Rice, a development director for JDRF. “We attached the fundraising page and other information to Michael’s Facebook page.”

While his walk was mostly a solo endeavor, Mr. Ehrlich said had occasional company along the way. An elderly couple who lived a block away from a place he passed through in Nassau County read about his walk, messaged him on Facebook and offered him some homemade meat loaf to take on his trip. A woman from Lynbrook with a 21-year-old son with type 1 diabetes approached him to say thank you for his efforts, and a man who works at Stony Brook University Children’s Hospital took a picture of Mr. Ehrlich for the young patients.

In addition, random people would cheer him on by shouting from their windows, he said, adding that he was pretty easy to identify. “There’s not too many people walking around with a JDRF penny on,” Mr. Ehrlich said, referring to his colored mesh tank top with the logo of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Mr. Ehrlich’s wife bought him a Superman T-shirt for his efforts, and his daughter is proud of him, too.

“She thinks it’s pretty cool—and to get a 13-year-old daughter to think that anything her parents are doing is cool, you’re ahead of the game,” Mr. Ehrlich said.

What were his plans for when he got back home?

“Probably go for a walk,” he said with a chuckle.

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Kudos to Mr. Ehrlich! This is no easy feat.

Slight edit necessary here: a man who works at Stony Brook University Children's Hospital told his young patients took a picture of Mr. Ehrlich for the young patients.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8047), HAMPTON BAYS on Oct 22, 17 9:32 AM
1 member liked this comment
Thank you, Mr. Ehrlich!!
By Michael Tessitore (76), East Quogue, New York on Oct 22, 17 8:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
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