Clocking the Km’s for Kiwi Health

Published: Mon 6 Aug 2018 11:57 AM
During July hundreds of people of all ages and stages of life walked, ran, cycled and rowed their way around New Zealand to raise awareness and much-needed funds for diabetes in the Cardio Kms for Diabetes challenge.
There are currently 38 Anytime Fitness NZ gyms across New Zealand making up part of a global health franchise.
The company teamed up with Diabetes NZ after CEO Richard Ball developed prediabetes and decided he needed to make some lifestyle changes himself or risk developing Type 2 diabetes. He changed his eating habits and altered his workout schedule to increase his cardio fitness. Physical activity is the cornerstone for both preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes and managing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Staying active can help manage diabetes effectively and has other well-known health benefits.
Richard, who also has a family member with diabetes, decided he wanted to do more to help others with diabetes and the idea for the Cardio KMs for Diabetes fundraising challenge was born.
Participants could do any form of cardiovascular exercise and these kilometres could be achieved inside the gym or outdoors.
Throughout the month over 800 gym members took part in the challenge and together managed to clock up over 82,000 kilometers between them.
Heather Verry, CEO of Diabetes New Zealand says; “It speaks volumes about the generosity and spirit of New Zealanders that they were prepared to walk, run, cycle and row more than 82,000 kilometres during July. Between them, they have travelled the equivalent of Auckland to London 4 times over. We are very grateful to Anytime Fitness for making this fundraiser happen.”
Richard Ball is also delighted with this result; “Our aim was to devise a style of challenge that engaged as many Anytime Fitness members and staff members as possible, while strongly emphasising the importance of regular cardiovascular exercise in diabetes management and T2D prevention."
“At Anytime Fitness, our purpose is to help people overcome the barriers to reach a healthier place. We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Diabetes NZ to effect long-term changes in the daily choices New Zealanders make. The money raised for Diabetes NZ will be a big bonus and will be used to support Kiwi families affected by the condition.”
Heather Verry adds; “Diabetes NZ is committed to maintaining the momentum, helping New Zealanders know that everyone is at risk of diabetes, whilst offering support to those 260,000 people who have diabetes to help them live active and healthy lives.
The fundraising element of the campaign has been a fantastic bonus - an incredible amount has been raised, over $15,000. It will go a long way towards sustaining our existing resources and improving our community support services."
Vicky Aitchison, from Christchurch, took part in the Cardio KMs for Diabetes challenge during July, running 100 kilometres in honour of her son Finlay.
Finlay, aged 10, is a member of a very special club. About 30 people in the world have his condition, which is called pancreatic agenesis. It meant he was born without a pancreas and his body couldn’t make insulin.
This condition means Finlay has lived with diabetes all his life. He was also born without a gall bladder and with a number of congenital heart defects. The condition is so rare – Finlay is the only person in New Zealand that has it – that doctors from Starship Hospital didn’t realise his health issues at birth were due to him not having a pancreas. His parents knew he had a congenital heart defect, which had been picked up in an ante-natal scan, and he had been closely monitored in-utero, but there was no indication of any other problems before his birth.
It was a shock for everyone when Finlay, who was just 1.3kg (3lb) at birth, immediately had an issue with unstable blood sugar levels. After an ultrasound noted that he may not have a pancreas or gall bladder he was sent for an MRI scan which confirmed this rare condition. In another first, Finlay became the youngest baby in New Zealand to be given an insulin pump. He was just 10 days old.
“The first five years were hard, very much about Finlay surviving, however the last few years have seen him thriving” says Vicky, who works for New Zealand Police.
“Diabetes was completely new to us, the endocrinologist warned us that Type 1 Diabetes can be a bit tricky and that the road ahead would be hard. He was right. It’s been a rollercoaster ride and a huge learning curve and we’re enormously grateful to all Finn’s doctors, diabetes nurses and the Christchurch diabetes community for all the help and support they gave us."
“Finlay is now a healthy, happy 10-year-old who, despite the difficult start in life, takes everything in his stride giving new meaning to the word resilience. He inspired me to put my name down to complete the Cardio KMs for Diabetes."
“It’s a cause very dear to my heart, I want to help with awareness; there is a lot of information out there and yet there are still many people who think diabetes is caused by a bad diet and lifestyle which isn’t the case. I also hope sharing our story will shine a light on what it’s like supporting a child with T1D."
“I’d like to give a huge personal thank you to everyone who has signed up for this challenge – every little bit helps make a huge difference to the great work Diabetes NZ is doing.”

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