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Day 34: Mark Douangchanh, Vice-Principal (Port Guichon Elementary)

October 25, 2012

Walk to School Week and Run for Diabetes

Millions of kids around the world deal with diabetes, needles and insulin pumps. For many of these kids they had no choice in the matter and diabetes didn’t happen because they did something bad or made a wrong choice in life.

We asked ourselves at Port Guichon if there was anything we can do to help. We saw one of our own students deal with the hardships of diabetes everyday and we wanted to do something.

The idea was simple. Let’s commit to walking to school for a whole week and collect pledges on behalf of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

For some of our kids, walking to school everyday can be more difficult than one might think. I wanted to encourage our kids to participate and I needed a way to get them enthused about “Walk to School Week”. I then realized that If I was asking the kids to get to school by foot then I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t do the same.

The only problem was that mu house was in Cloverdale and Port Guichon was 32.21 km away in Ladner.

We decided to have a “Run for Diabetes” Day on Oct 24 in the middle of “Walk to School Week” and I would run the 32 km from my house to the school. As a former type 2 diabetic, I knew how lucky I was to be able to get rid of diabetes through healthy food choices and exercise. I knew that unfortunately, kids with type 1 diabetes would not be as lucky unless there was a cure. Finding a cure may seem like an enormous task, but I knew we needed to start somewhere.

I took my first steps at 6:15 am that morning and made my way down 64th avenue towards Delta. I was shooting to arrive at school by 10:00 am and paid extra attention to my pacing because our Principal, Mr. Thompson was gathering the kids in the gym in orders to greet me. I did not want them to have to wait any longer than needed.

The rain held off until about 19 km in and I felt strong till about the 28 km mark. I would say that I didn’t feel fatigued until the last 4 kilometers. Fortunately by then Const. Doolan and Const. Atkinson met up with me and acted as my official police escorts and provided some much needed motivation. Several parents also drove out on the route to give me car honks words of encouragement.

As I entered the gym, I was greeted by a reception that would make any Rock Star jealous. It warmed my heart to see and hear the reaction of all our kids in the gym. I saw a sea of posters with words of encouragement for me and I was literally overwhelmed. We proudly presented a cheque of nearly $2000.00 to the JDRF and more donations are still coming in as I write this.

There’s a soft spot in my heart for the old saying: “a journey of thousand miles begins with one step”. I am proud of the students and staff at Port Guichon for their hard work. Hopefully they feel just as strongly as I do and feel that we have taken some powerful steps together in the effort of finding a cure for diabetes.

Mark Douangchanh is a vice-principal at Port Guichon Elementary in Ladner, BC. He can be found on twitter at @MarkDouangchanh

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Deneka Michaud permalink*
    October 25, 2012 9:36 pm

    So inspiring Mark! You are an incredible role model and we are so lucky to have you in Delta!!!

  2. October 26, 2012 5:17 am

    Congratulations on your inspiring project, Mark! I’m sure your students learned much about courage and commitment. Wow!

  3. October 26, 2012 5:33 am

    Congratulations Mark! You are truly an inspiration to all of us!

  4. October 29, 2012 5:24 am

    Congrats Mark on this amazing run! I was thinking about you every moment I looked out the window! Thank you for sharing your personal story with all of us, you are truly leading by example!

  5. Tami permalink
    October 30, 2012 4:32 am

    You probably made more of an impact than you will ever know. Congratulations!

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