Taylor Shantz doesn’t consider herself a runner. In fact, she said she’s terrible at running. But that hasn’t stopped her from completing a 10-kilometre race, a half-marathon and attempting a full marathon. After all, it’s the reason she’s running that counts.
Shantz has been a member of Team Diabetes for the past eight years. In that time, she has participated in races in Iceland, Brazil, Greece and Costa Rica.
She doesn’t set any records for speed, and she’s often among the last participants to cross the finish line, but Shantz is perfectly happy with that. What matters to her most is the funding she has brought in for the Canadian Diabetes Association — in the neighbourhood of $25,000.
The Lockerby Composite graduate first became involved with Team Diabetes when she was 21 years old and a student at Carleton University. She attended an information session on the advice of her roommate, and “just stayed the course.”
“I was looking for an excuse to get out there and exercise and get involved with some kind of sport, but ... my whole reason for doing this is because I wanted to get involved in the community and express my business side.
“I enjoy fundraising and travel, but I’m a horrible runner.”
Despite the amount of running Shantz has done in the past eight years, she said she has yet to become hooked on the sport.
“Occasionally, I get spurts, I might see the runner’s high in the distance, but usually it’s a struggle,” she said with a laugh.
However, she keeps setting loftier goals for herself and pushing herself in longer racing events, simply to show her commitment to the cause.
“You can only go back to people for fundraising dollars so many times,” she said. “So I gave myself more ambitious goals to raise more and more money, in order to push myself and push my donors.”
Team Diabetes has evolved its focus over the years, becoming more appealing to varying fitness levels, which suits Shantz perfectly.
“When it first started, it was just a running organization,” she said. “But they’ve opened it to different types of events, so it’s becoming more accessible to other people who may be intimidated by running a 10-km.”
I gave myself more ambitious goals to raise more and more money, in order to push myself and push my donors.
The events Team Diabetes now takes part in encompass walking, running, hiking or biking.
Besides achieving personal fitness goals, Shantz said the camaraderie is another highlight of being part of the team.
“Everybody has similar interests, and you meet people from across Canada,” she said. “I’ve built up an interesting network ... We explore new ideas and give each other fundraising and training tips.”
With eight years, four international events and $25,000 in fundraising logged, Shantz said she is “officially retiring” from Team Diabetes. However, as she steps away from the starting line, the project manager with Hatch Ltd. said she hopes to focus her support more on the administrative side, lending her expertise to the Sudbury Rocks Race, Run or Walk for Diabetes.
But she still has a lofty running goal to accomplish.
“I’m still going to conquer the full marathon at one point or another,” she said with a smile.
Susan Levesque, co-ordinator for Team Diabetes in northeastern Ontario, is searching for new recruits for the team. By the end of the month, she is hoping to have added at least two new faces to the “Team D” roster.
“It’s good for the cause ... and it’s an adventure, as well,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to work in your community, meet new people, establish new relationships.”
For the international events, participants are required to raise a minimum of $6,100. For national events, the total is $500. Team Diabetes members receive an online training program, fundraising support, as well as a team singlet for race day. The accommodation and return airfare are also covered.
“This is a unique experience-based fundraising program where individuals augment the Association’s reach in their community,” Levesque said. “Individuals raise awareness about diabetes, are role models in their community and raise funds for the Association to further the Association’s mandate.
“On average the Association retains 69 per cent of the minimum amount required to participate in the program.”
Most importantly, funds are put toward research into finding a cure for what Levesque described as a “devastating disease.”
“There are so many ramifications of the disease — problems with your eyes, ears, heart, etc.,” she said. “I don’t think people are really paying attention to (their health).”
According to diabetes.ca, there are more than nine million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes.