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Peterborough family walking to Ottawa in support of juvenile diabetes research

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A family left Peterborough on Wednesday morning to begin their 265-kilometre trek to Ottawa as part of a fundraiser for juvenile diabetes research – Jun 9, 2021

A Peterborough family is trekking to Ottawa in support of their daughter and others as part of a national fundraiser to support juvenile diabetes research.

Under humid conditions around 6 a.m. Wednesday, Marie-Noëlle Denis, her oldest daughter Laurence Denis-Bertrand and Laurence’s boyfriend David Patton, departed the city for their 265-kilometre trek east along Highway 7 to the nation’s capital. It’s their contribution to the national Sunlife/JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes fundraiser, which supports research into Type 1 diabetes (T1D), a condition where the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, the hormone that controls the level of sugar in your blood, according to Diabetes Canada.

In 2019, Denis’s youngest daughter Mariloup was diagnosed with T1D. Since then, the girl has endured more than 1,500 insulin needles annually (or four a day) to help control the disease, says Denis. The 10-year-old must also conduct daily monitoring of her food intake and blood-sugar levels.

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Read more: With diabetes on the rise, Canadian doctor awarded for advancing treatment

“She has to count every food she eats, everything she drinks, even the weather outside affects her blood sugar level or playing and doing activities with other kids,” Denis told Global News Peterborough prior to the trek. “It can have a big impact. During the summer it’s a little bit harder. It’s a lot of work and can be a little overwhelming some days.”

Mariloup’s father Rob Cahill says the needles are now a “constant” in his daughter’s life. The girl was too shy to speak during the family’s interview.

“(Current NHLer) Max Domi wrote a great book as a Type 1 diabetes youth called No Days Off and it couldn’t be any truer than that,” he said.

The family chose Ottawa as their destination as Mariloup was first diagnosed at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa during a family visit to nearby Gatineau, Que., Denis’s hometown.

“We were all so scared but the staff at CHEO took such good care of us,” said Denis. “We are so grateful for the medical advancements that have helped children with diabetes live a close to normal life, but this takes support from our communities.”

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They plan to walk 50 kilometres each day — approximately 15 hours — and aim to complete the journey on June 13.

Cahill, general manager of Cahill’s Outerwear in downtown Peterborough, says his business will match all donations up to $2,500. With a fundraising goal of $500, the group as of Wednesday morning had raised nearly $720. Donations to their “Team Ti-Loup” can be made on their donation page.

“Every dollar helps,” said Denis.

Cahill says for his daughter and others’ sakes, he hopes for a day they won’t need insulin and can get a full night’s sleep without the need to check blood-sugar levels.

Read more: Don’t ignore diabetes symptoms because you’re afraid of catching COVID-19, doctors say

“I know the Peterborough community is amazing at contributing to a lot of causes — this happens to be close to us,” added Cahill. “We’re asking anyone or any other business who sees an interest in this cause to step up. It’s a great time and a great cause for kids and those with Type 1 diabetes.”

Cahill’s will be posting updates on the trio’s trek on its Facebook page.

“Denis has got an adventurous spirit and really wanted to take this on,” said Cahill.

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