Two Abbotsford residents join the team to fight diabetes

Two Abbotsford locals are hoping their efforts will aid the fight against diabetes.

Vanessa Kuipers poses with a medal provided by the BMO Financial Group

Vanessa Kuipers poses with a medal provided by the BMO Financial Group

Two Abbotsford locals are hoping their efforts will aid the fight against diabetes.

Vanessa Kuipers and James Grill are members of Team Diabetes, and both will raise money to compete in athletic events in the new year.

In exchange, they will receive free airfare, accommodations, and entry for their events in Costa Rica and Rio de Janeiro.

Grill was just recently told that he was pre-diabetic. The news came as a shock to the 48-year-old, who considered his eating habits to be healthy.

Unfortunately, some of those menu items fell on a list of high-glycemic foods.

Grill was relieved to know why he was feeling unwell. He would shake before eating, and often felt extremely hungry after a short period of time.

Wanting to do something for himself and to raise awareness, Grill joined the team. Now, he is preparing to travel to Costa Rica on May 6 to hike the Rincon de la Vieja volcano.

The Conquer the Volcano challenge involves trekking up to the summit at 1,805 metres, with an elevation gain of 915 metres.

“I’ve never done anything like this,” he says.

His girlfriend Darlene had a brother who passed away from pancreatitis, a condition related to diabetes. This year, he would have turned 50.

“A lot of people like me realize that they are on the wrong path with their health. They take on something like this in order to turn the corner.”

While Grill needs to raise a minimum of $6,100, he is hoping to hit the $25,000 mark.

Kuipers joined the program shortly after her daughter was diagnosed with the disease at age five.

Her first event was in 2010. Held at Reykjavik, Iceland, Kuipers ran the 10-k race in honour of her husband, who passed away from Crohn’s disease in 2009.

This July, she will travel to Rio de Janeiro to compete in another marathon, her third event.

“I’m not a fast runner, but if my daughter and millions of other people have to inject themselves daily with insulin just to stay alive, then I can run and talk to people to spread awareness about diabetes and living healthier lifestyles,” said Kuipers.

To date, program members across the country have raised close to $30 million in support of the Canadian Diabetes Association, walking, running, hiking or biking in events across the world.

Two million people are diagnosed and nine million are affected with pre-diabetes in Canada.

World Diabetes Day was on Monday, Nov. 14.