My Fearless Approach to Type 1

WRITTEN BY: Dave Nevins

Peering almost 500 feet down from my position perched on a narrow railing, intense wind threatening to blow me over the edge, I watch the river flowing far below. I’m not feeling hopeless or terrified, but exhilarated beyond belief. Slowly I go through the countdown: 5…4…3…2…1… I leap out, doing my best swan dive off the bridge. Free-falling head first toward the river below, I reach the end of the line and the elasticity fastened to my ankles propels me up while gravity pulls me down, up and down, until finally settling my head-down gazing at the canyon walls. What a rush!

I think back on the unfolding of such behavior. Why I decide to take adventures head on? I had a neighbor in Boise, Idaho, who came over one day and surprised me with an invitation. Would I like to join a bungee jumping organization and jump off of a local bridge. I gave it some sketchy thought, and surfaced for air and I realized that while I could come up with at least 59 reasons not to do it and enjoy not going through the nerves of standing on a ledge and jumping off. I did not have a solid reason not to. I now look at experiences/adventures in the face and if there is no solid reason for backing out then I proceed toward a new experience.

This recent bungee jump was one of many jumps I’ve participated in. It’s what I do — seek adventure wherever it can be found. In the last couple of years I have run two trail ultra-marathons, ridden in a 24-hour mountain bike race (with a team of riders with Type 1), kayaked down the Gila River, crewed for the Race Across America and the Race Across the West (both cycling), and explored Death Valley and Southern Utah.

No, I do not feel limited by Type 1. Actually, much of what I do, I do because I have Type 1. I am not sure how life would have unfolded had I not made the decision to take on challenges and adventures when they came knocking, but my thoughts are threaded with the fact that I am not going to let this disease call the shots and I will live life purposefully and I enjoy the thrill, the rush, the challenge, and the satisfaction that adventure delivers.
I made a decision, long ago, to do what I can to give back to the diabetes community and to encourage, inspire and to maybe open up doors for those with Type 1 to take a chance doing events or activities that may be on their “bucket” list.
Activities on the “Dave do these” list include trail running, mountain biking, sea kayaking, snorkeling, cycling, hiking, caving, mountain climbing, rock climbing, blogging, rappelling along with the mentioned photography, videography and filmmaking.
Yes, by golly, my heart rate does go up when I am jumping off things or out of planes, climbing mountains, kayaking rough ocean waters, or zigzagging through technical terrain on a mountain bike. I am not, exactly, Superman, so the fear factor is very real.

I have had Type 1 diabetes for 40+ years, and while it has not always been an easy ride, having a positive and determined attitude has made all the difference. With this in mind, I am a co-founder of No Limits, a diabetes adventure group created thirteen years ago. Some of our events have included sky diving, long ocean swim events in Alaska (benefiting the American Diabetes Association), a bungee jump, sea kayaking expeditions and kayak training. I was also director for the Banff Mountain Film Festival and Radical Reels (through No Limits), and we sported an adventure racing team.

To help share my unique and sometimes adventurous lifestyle, I have glided into the world of photography, videography, and filmmaking, along with maintaining a website/blog ( These mediums have provided me with a few more options to share a rather cool life and to encourage and inspire others that they can do as well. One of my more recent efforts to help in the diabetes effort was creating a film, You Only Live Once, about the 24-hour mountain bike race I participated in and a No Limits sea kayak expedition in Alaska.

New posts on the coming months of my calendar include a road cycling event and a possible trail run. The run is a 24-hour endurance event which I hope shapes into a team of runners with Type 1 diabetes. My desire is to create a short film/video from the experience. Although I am a habitual trail runner, moving outside this box allows me to experience new adventures and connects me with a wide variety of people.

Diabetes organizations have been an integral part of my experience. I have assisted with and participated in events that were created by JDRF, American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Sports Project, Diabetes Exercise & Sports Association, Insulindependence, I Challenge Diabetes, and of course No Limits.

My desire is to help people with diabetes. With this in mind, I will continue to take on new challenges, seek more adventures, and share the amazing moments along the way. Diabetes is not going to stop me!

Read Travel + Adventure with Diabetes.

Dave Nevins

Dave is from Kansas and currently lives in Dalles, Oregon. He's the Director of Tourism at The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce. He aims to inspire others who live with Type 1 diabetes to never stop having adventures.