Next month will see 26 people – including 19 that live with type 1 diabetes – climbing Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for JDRF.
Last week we introduced you to our youngest Kilimanjaro adventurer Imogen. Now meet design and technology teacher Pete – our oldest participant from Surrey. He has lived with type 1 diabetes for 58 years.
“In my 50th year I walked the South Downs Way for the Stephanie Marks Appeal. Unaccompanied and for 105 miles, I raised £9,000 to help build the successful specialist diabetes centre in Chertsey. Stephanie was a pupil at the school where I work and who too suffered from type 1 diabetes.
“She tragically passed away most unexpectedly at the age of just 17 years. This distressing incident and the fact that I adore Africa, having been born and brought up not far from Kilimanjaro, have greatly inspired me to work hard on this extremely demanding challenge for JDRF.
“With her family’s wholehearted support, I am dedicating this amazing challenge to the memory of Stephanie Marks.”
Commenting on the adventure ahead of him, Pete said: “The most significant challenges will be managing the diabetes, the cold, the exhaustion, the uncertainty, the lack of proper wash facilities and the significant threat of altitude sickness. But great team work and support for each other will help us so much when times get hard. Many of the group have already met up and the bonds we’ve made so far are extremely encouraging!
“I look forward to the companionship, the amazing excitement of the challenge, the complete novelty of getting to know other type 1 sufferers and making new friends – hopefully for life. I’m excited to be going to Africa again with its wonderful feeling of space, colour and vibrancy; its wonderfully scenery and above all – its friendly people. At the end, I also look forward to the best shower of my life!”
Talking of what he has learnt so far and advice that he would give to others doing something similar, Pete said: “Team work, communication and empathy are so important when undertaking such a formidable challenge. It has also been good to know that I’m not the only one to have struggles and difficulties with my type 1 diabetes control from time to time. I’ve learnt how much hard work is needed to be well prepared for a challenge like this.
“Leave plenty of time for thorough preparation as this challenge requires a high level of physical strength and mental preparation. If at all possible, make a concerted effort to meet other members of your team beforehand. From there you can establish a cohesive, effective and friendly team such as ours.”
Pete added: “In my 58 years of living with type 1 diabetes, I’m pleased to have seen so many significant and positive changes to its treatment. I’d like to wish everyone from our team all the very best for Kilimanjaro and its inherent preparations. I greatly look forward to meeting everyone at Heathrow on 14 June - bon chance!”
If you would like to sponsor Pete and support vital research into type 1 diabetes, visit his fundraising page here.
If you are inspired to take part in the JDRF Kilimanjaro challenge next year, taking place from 18 – 28 June 2015, please register your interest here.