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Long Island man to walk from Times Square to Montauk

Michael Ehrlich, with daughter Rachael, 13, near their

Michael Ehrlich, with daughter Rachael, 13, near their home in South Setauket, Oct. 14, 2017. Ehrlich will walk from Manhattan to Montauk starting Oct. 16, 2017, to raise money for Type 1 diabetes research. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

On Monday morning, Michael Ehrlich is planning to go out for a stroll — a 125-mile stroll.

His nearly three-day journey from Times Square to Montauk is part of a personal quest to raise $25,000 for JDRF, a leading funder of Type 1 diabetes research around the world. His daughter, Rachael Ehrlich, 13, was diagnosed last fall.

“I wanted to do something that was different and sounded impossible, but was really doable,” said Michael Ehrlich, 46, a senior mortgage specialist at Thomson Reuters.

The South Setauket resident will set out at 9:30 a.m. with a backpack with water, snacks and $50 in refueling money, “just in case.”

At a brisk pace with no breaks, Ehrlich estimates he’ll reach Montauk sometime Wednesday before 6 p.m.

“He really cares and wants to make a difference and help,” Rachael Ehrlich said.

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While JDRF has its own awareness walk, Michael Ehrlich wanted to go above and beyond on his own timeline, allowing him to collect as much money as possible.

“We have a lot of people who walk for us, but usually it’s part of our JDRF walk, which is about three miles,” said Jason Rice, development director for JDRF’s NYC/Long Island chapter.

As of Saturday, Michael Ehrlich had raised about $20,000 in three weeks and spent so much time sharing Rachael’s story and his own training process, “it’s almost like a full-time job,” he joked.

There is no known cause or cure for Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes. In people with Type 1, the pancreas stops producing insulin, which the body uses to regulate blood sugar and turn food into energy. The only treatment is insulin injections.

Rachael Ehrlich was diagnosed last year after fainting on a family vacation. She now has a handle on testing her blood and knows what to eat — her dad’s breakfast burritos with beans and avocado are her new favorite meal, she said.

She’s an avid soccer player, but being an athlete with diabetes is challenging. She was hoping to get a special insulin pump, and when their insurance company wouldn’t pay for it, Michael Ehrlich found inspiration in his daughter’s disappointment.

“I told her, they are working on a cure, why don’t we do something to help?” he said.

In August, Ehrlich tested his endurance by walking partway home from his Times Square office to the Floral Park Long Island Rail Road station — it took more than five hours, but it showed he could make his project work.

Then Rachael and her dad started riding bikes together. Michael Ehrlich graduated to day- or weekend-long walks to the Hamptons or Orient Point. He ultimately lost 25 pounds by walking about 40 miles a week.

Ehrlich posts constant updates to his Facebook page, Manhattan2Montauk, and will livestream his location during the walk.

It’s not so much the walk that’s valuable to him as the community it built as the day approaches, Ehrlich said.

“I’m now realizing there’s so many people suffering from this or who have children with this,” he said. “Doing this walk, I’ve been connected with dozens of people.”

“I’m really proud of him,” Rachael Ehrlich said.

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