Diabetes is a destructive disease that affects over 2.4 million Canadians and costs Canada’s healthcare system over $13.2 billion per year. Sadly, both of these numbers are also on the rise. In an effort to raise both funds and awareness of this situation, the Canadian Diabetes Association sponsors a fitness and fundraising program called Team Diabetes. Team Diabetes offers participants an opportunity to either walk or run a marathon in a choice of numerous international locations in exchange for a fundraising commitment. Participants also receive professional marathon training and support, as well as assistance with fundraising strategies. Over 1,000 Canadians participate in these Team Diabetes marathons each year. University of Manitoba employee Denise Williams is one of these participants.
Williams is 55 years old and has worked in financial services at the university from 1973 to 2003 and transferred to the human resources department in 2003. She is a mother of five and will be walking in the Honolulu marathon at the end of this year. Williams talks about her reasons for embarking on this journey: “An ex-university co-worker of mine, Marilyn Fabris Smith, and a previous university superior, Betty Watkins, both lost their battle to diabetes. My mother who passed away in 2005 had type-2 diabetes, and I inherited gestational diabetes during pregnancy with my last child, Maxine. Although I wouldn’t trade her for anything, I could do without the diabetes. I will be walking in Honolulu in December in memory of Marilyn, Betty, my mom, and to raise funds for 2 million Canadians living with diabetes.”
Williams’ fundraising goal is $6,112 and she has raised $2707.12 so far. Her fundraising endeavours include online donations, selling Mom’s Pantry products, hosting an Epicure party on Oct. 23, and a team bud, spud and steak night at the Tijuana Yacht Club on Sept. 23. Williams is thankful for all donations, saying “It all adds up to getting closer to a cure for this devastating disease. Funds raised by Team Diabetes members support the work of the Canadian Diabetes Association. Each member has pledged to raise $6,100, but my personal goal is $6,112. Anyone who knows me knows the importance of this “12.” I used to watch hockey growing up and Yvan Cournoyer (#12) nicknamed the “Roadrunner” for his speed on skates, was my favorite. He played for the Montreal Canadians, and when he retired I stopped watching, because at that point the sport was starting to have too many brawls for my liking. Cournoyer was a gentleman and I respected him for that.”
Williams will be walking the full marathon in Honolulu this December. She vows to complete the marathon no mater how long it takes her, and she plans to take many photographs along the way. She believes that if she can do it, any one can do it.