I have been an advocate for diabetes pretty much since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes just before my 11th birthday. I wasn't too sick at the time and didn't really know what diabetes would mean for my life. But I got worried when I realized it wasn't something they could just cure, that it would be with me forever.
I was an active kid -- I had been doing karate since I was four and had just started to race karts competitively. So first thing on my mind was if I would still be able to train and race. But I was determined that diabetes wasn't going to stop me. And I didn't think it should stop other kids either. So not long after my diagnosis, I decided to do something to help other kids with diabetes.
I created a workshop for diabetes education centers and summer camps, and talk to the kids and their families to tell them that diabetes won't stop them from achieving their dreams. I've been a JDRF Youth Ambassador for two years, and have spoken at four International Children with Diabetes conferences.
In 2011 I was awarded the Canadian Diabetes Association Inspiration Award. And this month, we are putting together our most ambitious fundraising event ever, in partnership with the Academy of Martial Arts: Karate Chops Diabetes. Karate Chops Diabetes will centre around a 12 hour, 15-ring Karate marathon, featuring two attempts to break world records: for most people performing the Kata at one time, and Ryan "6-Pack" Lapadat -- Canada's Real Life Super Hero and World Power Lifting Champion -- will lift a bleacher full of people. The Academy of Martial Arts has committed to raise $250,000 to help fund the Canadian Clinical Trial Network through JDRF through this event -- to help bring us one step closer to finding a cure.
Karate Chops Diabetes is about living well, being active, helping others and making a difference in the diabetes community. The event will be on November 24th, 2012 at the Powerade Centre in Brampton, Ontario. It will be a great opportunity for everyone to come out, have some fun and help us make a difference. You can learn more, help us reach our goal, and can watch live at KarateChopsDiabetes.com. You can even break through your own diabetes challenge with the cool Virtual Board Break App on the website.
Diabetes doesn't have to put the brakes on your life. These days, I'm ranked as one of the top kart racers in Canada, and in 2013 I'll be pushing even harder and moving out of karts to Formula 1600 open wheel cars. I just got my Black Belt in GoJu Karate.
I haven't let diabetes slow me down for one second or stand in the way of my dreams. It isn't always easy, but it has made me stronger. Karate has helped me a lot. Nothing comes easy when you train; it takes dedication to train so that you can react effectively when it really counts. Managing diabetes is like that.
You can live a healthy life doing anything you want if you are take care of your diabetes first. As for me, I will keep going and do what I can to make a difference until there is a cure.