When she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 10, doctors told Laura Wulf she wouldn’t live past age 25. Now, at 45, she is riding from Iowa around the United States on a motorcycle with her husband of seven years, Kowboy.

The two are taking their bikes 13,000 miles from Denison, Iowa, around the edges of the country in a six-week trip that brought them down the coast of Maine last week. The trip will end at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.

The purpose of the trip is to raise awareness about diabetes and they call it the “Victory Ride.”

Laura struggled with diabetes when she was younger.

“Living with that I developed depression and I went through alcoholism and I was really having a lot of struggles with my life,” Laura said. “I went through two divorces. I thought about committing suicide and that was my turnaround point.”

Eventually she went out to find help from diabetic counselors. She later went to a therapist, took medication, and changed her life.

“I love life now,” Laura said. “This is a celebratory trip and I am just grateful for every moment of every day.”

“That’s why it’s her victory ride because every day is a victory for her to get up,” Kowboy said. “She wants people to know that if they have diabetes to test their sugars and test them often and be responsible.”

So far the two have logged about 2,500 miles in her 2002 Harley Davidson VRod and his 2006 Harley Electra Glide.

Now she tests her sugars about six to 10 times a day and does everything she needs to do. The ride is meant to help raise awareness about diabetes and how important it is for diabetics to check their blood sugars.

The couple made several stops at medical centers along the way including Bar Harbor and the Nutrition and Diabetes Care Center in Rockland where they talked to diabetic counselors.

“They are like her, they get to know the person and they can help the person instead of just helping the disease, they help the person,” Kowboy said. “That’s what made the big difference in her life was her diabetic counselor and diabetic educator. It really made things turn around —”

“— and you can have a life,” Laura said. “You can have a good life but you gotta take care of yourself.”

She said this ride is not only a celebration but “it’s to help any other diabetic out there that is going through the same struggles I went through.”

The motorcycles have a special place in the trip. Not only does the couple love to ride and Laura alone has logged more than 25,000 miles, but she contemplated suicide on her motorcycle years ago.

“I was planning the hill I wanted to ride my motorcycle off of,” she said on her Web site.

Now, she has conquered those thoughts and loves to live and ride.

“My bike gives me the freedom of the wind through my hair, the freedom I have now with my diabetes like it’s not going to hold me down. I’m in good spirits, I think clearly, and I want to live,” she said.

The couple’s favorite part of the ride is meeting people along the way; the countryside is another high point.

“We have been to a lot of different places and it’s beautiful wherever you go,” he said. The couple added that they have enjoyed the beauty of Maine and its coast and “the people have been wonderful here too; very hospitable,” Laura said.

The two said, in Maine, they met up with a father and his girl who had been diagnosed with diabetes when she was 8 and had some of the same symptoms of denial that Laura did when she was younger.

They told her that she can be like everyone else but she has to wear her pump for her own health. “If you take care of yourself, everything else will fall in line,” Laura said.

They added that the girl was impressed with the motorcycles and the couple hoped she could be inspired to learn to live vivaciously and with her diabetes.

“If she can help one person, one child, help themselves, that’s what we are after,” he said. “And we believe we have already done that.”

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at fritz@villagesoup.com.