Going the Distance to Raise Awareness

11/27/17
WRITTEN BY: Niamh O'Sullivan
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We live in an age where social media is saturated with fund-raising events for very worthy causes. As a volunteer organisation, to set yourself apart from the rest, you need to think outside the box and do something outstanding. Here in the little region of Taranaki, New Zealand, we knew we needed to go the extra mile this year to raise awareness for Type 1 diabetes, and so we did just that. Except we didn’t just go one mile: Diabetes Youth Taranaki ran 160km (over 99 miles) around out stunning Mount Taranaki to raise awareness for this year’s Diabetes Action Month.

The Around the Mountain Relay is a renowned annual event in Taranaki that attracts people from all around New Zealand and even abroad. Teams gather to race around our majestic mountain steeped in rich Māori legends. This year Diabetes Youth Taranaki entered the first-ever team that represented Type 1 diabetes. The team was made up of kids and adults with Type 1, local and national Type 1 ambassadors, and family and friends who are our constant support and whose lives are also affected by Type 1 diabetes.

Our team’s goals went beyond raising awareness about the difficulties that we face with Type 1: they focused on what we can achieve and how capable we are. Battling with Type 1 on a daily basis makes us resilient, motivated, resourceful, and unstoppable! Having very high expectations entering into the race, we were all surprised by how much more we got out of the experience. We saw ups and downs in the forms of both the relentless hills of the region and our fluctuating blood sugars. We battled through storms, both physical and mental, but would not give up.

We smashed our estimated running time by completing the 160km in 17 hours. Crossing the finish line all together was symbolic of the journey we had just been through together. Each child, parent, and friend came out with smiles on their faces. We bonded together through the experience and as a result our volunteer organisation is stronger than ever. Support came out from all over New Zealand to wish our team well: videos, online donations, generous sponsorship from Pharmaco, Dana Brooks Urban Studio Properties, and invested healthcare team who met participants at the finish line.

We have raised just under $1,500 NZD to date for the event. Diabetes Youth Taranaki will put this toward regional events held throughout the year that bring families together for support and friendship such as our annual kids camp. Our Give a Little page is running until the end of November and any further donations received will be very much appreciated by the families who took part in the Around the Mountain Relay.

No man is an island, especially when Type 1 diabetes is involved. For kids, it often feels like it takes a village. There is strength in numbers and that is what our team has proven: we made history in our region with our team and have shown the world that you can’t break our spirit. This is how we live beyond in Taranaki!



Niamh O'Sullivan

Niamh is a proud Irish woman living the Kiwi dream with her partner Shane, having recently taken the leap and moved to New Zealand. A Type 1 diagnosis at 21 changed Niamh’s attitude toward life, which she now lives to the fullest with no regrets! As a Registered Dietitian and an enthusiastic volunteer for all things youth- and diabetes-related, she has forged a place in the Taranaki community. Niamh recently represented New Zealand in the Rose of Tralee International Festival in Ireland, which celebrates young woman around the world with Irish heritage, as an advocate for young women with Type 1 (particularly those rocking insulin pumps!).