WELLS- Driving rain and 30 mph wind gusts appeared to have little impact Sunday on the spirits of Elisha Turner of Limington.

At age 5, Elisha was one of the youngest riders among hundreds taking part in the American Diabetes Association’s Kennebunks Tour de Cure 2012 bike ride. The starting point was Wells Reserve at Laudholm.

Elisha, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes just three months ago, was set to ride out on a trailer bike behind his father, Jason Turner, and two other members of his Star Wars team on a 50-kilometer route to raise money to combat diabetes.

“May the force be with you,” Elisha yelled into the microphone, quoting a line from the popular science fiction movie series.

A hundred or so fellow riders roared back with a cheer before setting out in record-breaking rainfall that was shutting down roads and flooding basements across the region.

The bikers proved a hardy group, coming out in force despite the soggy conditions to raise money for a disease that affects 25.8 million people, or 8.3 percent of the U.S. population. It was the third year in a row that the popular fundraiser, which was expected to attract up to 800 bikers in dry conditions, took place in the rain.

This year, organizers had to call off the 100-mile portion of the event for safety reasons, but the 100-kilometer, 50-kilometer, 25-kilometer and 5-kilometer rides all went on as scheduled.

Emily Silevinac, associate director of the Kennebunks Tour de Cure, said attendance was down from the expected numbers, but she was impressed by the hundreds who showed up despite the weather. “Diabetes doesn’t take a day off,” she said.

About 595 bikers had participated by the end of the day, raising $265,000 with no accidents, Silevinac said.

Hundreds of people helped run the event, including volunteers manning support and gear wagons along the routes, bicycle mechanics, medical helpers and motorcycle escorts.

Many of those taking part said they had family members and friends with diabetes and they were not going to let rain get in the way of helping out.

Brandon Fogwell of North Hampton, N.H., raised $20,090 through the ride, the top fundraiser of the day.

“I just went from business to business, house to house and door to door,” Fogwell said.

Dan Loiselle of Scarborough said he and his wife had no choice but to ride, since they were team captains for a group of riders from InterMed, a health care organization.

“It’s a great cause,” Loiselle said.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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