Years from now, when I look back on my career and think about the projects that really stood out for me, I think I will always remember Outrun Diabetes and Sébastien Sasseville's journey of running across Canada. Watching him cross the finish line on World Diabetes Day was one of the proudest moments of my life, not only because of what it meant for him, but for what it meant for all of us with Type 1.
My eyes started getting misty that morning when the crowd was assembling at Second Beach for the big finish, and I was a sobbing mess of projectile tears by the time I saw Sébastien come around the corner and complete the final steps into the ocean. I knew it was going to be an emotional moment, but I don't think I realized just how deeply I would be impacted by watching a dream come true for someone with a busted pancreas like me.
I thought about the kids with Type 1 who would be exposed to a message of hope and possibility. I thought about their parents. I thought about people without diabetes, the classmates at school and others who could potentially look at diabetes differently now.
And I thought about the adults with Type 1, the veterans who have come through so much and perhaps given up on their own hopes and dreams. It broke me open.
Animas was the first sponsor to say "Yes" so I got to be a part of the journey from the very beginning to bring a project to life and organize events, promotion, social media, photography, videos, and internal communications throughout the year. I also went to spend a few days on the road with Sébastien & Patrick to see the realities first hand.
What really struck me from the whole experience was the physicality of the challenge, and the sheer stamina it must have taken to simply get out of bed and run a marathon, 5-6x a week, rain or shine.
I'm embarrassed to admit to my own laziness when it's cold and wet outside, and the mental whining & snivelling I go through just to get myself to the gym! What became clear to me when I was with Sébastien is that he didn't give himself the option to quit. This dream was bigger than him, and he had to get out and run, and do what was required - whether he wanted to or not. There was no negotiation, no excuses around "I don't feel like it today." Day after day, through every season, every type of weather, physical pain, stress, sleep deprivation, and every diabetes scenario imaginable, he did what he had to do because he knew why he was doing it.
Some say, "Oh, he's a special breed of human" with all the jaw-dropping physical challenges Sébastien has taken on and conquered over the years, and I may have agreed with that before, but really - what I have come to know about him from this experience is that he's not 'Superman' after all, but what he has is relentless perseverance and determination beyond measure. And those things can be applied to any pursuit - be it advocacy, research, writing, or whatever it is someone is passionate about. And there is something he said that is absolutely true for all of us: "Big things can happen when you do a little bit every day." He is right.
Greatness is in the everyday. It means doing the things that nobody sees - the mundane and unglamorous things - that you know will make you better. It means getting on with what's needed and not making excuses. It means believing in something and having the courage to devote yourself to an ideal that is bigger than you. It's about giving your all to something, without knowing if it will work out or not, but knowing that you are fulfilling your potential by daring greatly.
Thank you, Sébastien. And thank you, Patrick. The legacy of this great adventure will live on through those of us lucky enough to have been touched by it, and will reach farther than you will ever know.