Stepping Up For Diabetes: Walking the Appalachian Trail to Fundraise

Ann Bartlett Health Guide

  • Friends, Jim and Nancy Van Metre’s, have a vacation home in Maine.  This summer Jim and Nancy were hiking near their home in Maine, when they came upon a traveler and her dog hiking the Appalachian Trail.  Jim, being one of the most amiable people I know, struck up a conversation with this young woman to find out what their journey was about.  They were hiking the Appalachian Trail raising money for two causes.  Buddy, a border collie/ aussie shepherd mix, is hiking for Dream Power Animal Rescue and Buddy’s mom, Judy Hepner, is hiking for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

    Judy explained to Jim that she and Buddy had started in Georgia, but by Front Royal VA they had to switch directions because the heat was hurting Buddy.  So in late June, Judy and Buddy boarded a plane and headed to Maine to reverse their weather conditions! They are from Alaska, so frosty Maine summers weren’t a problem.  (And no, Judy does not look like Sarah Palin or Tina Fey!)  They have hiked 1000 miles and are about half way done their journey. 

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    What makes anyone want to travel and work so hard in the name of fundraising?  I emailed Judy and asked her that very question:

    “Currently we have hiked over 1,000 miles and are over halfway done with the trail.  To answer your question, diabetes runs in my family.  My father and uncle have it, as well as both my grandfathers and one grandmother.  Growing up I participated in many of the Walk for Diabetes fundraisers and figured that this hike would be a great way to inspire people to donate to the cause.”

    What inspires us? Sometimes I forget about this in the day to day running of my ordinary life!  Let’s see carb ratios, bolus, blood glucose, work, family, staying on top of my fitness, plus all things that I love to do! And then someone like Judy Hepner, who does not have the disease, steps up to the plate to bat a home run for all of us!  That’s pure authenticity and what the heart of philanthropy should look like.  She has a connection to it, but has chosen to take a proactive approach to helping. 

    All too often families and spouses get caught up in taking care of their loved ones diabetes.  It becomes the approach of owning the disease for someone else.  But what is most effective for everyone’s mental health, especially for those who support and love us, is to take a proactive approach away from the individual with the disease.  Like helping fundraise for a cure.  Judy is winner for that message! 

    My husband, who loves and adores me, knows that if he feels I’m not taking care of myself, should pack his things for the doghouse! “Mr. I haven’t been to the dentist in 3 years!” has no place to speak to me about my management of diabetes.  I take a lot of pride in the fact that I work so hard at my own management.  But I’m always going to have days with numbers I can’t predict!  And no one is more disappointed than me! 

    Support and appreciation from my husband is shown through fundraising  and advocacy for new technologies!  This shows his support and allows me the space to work on my own disease the best that I can.   My marriage is a partnership, an interdependent relationship, which means that each person works on their own stuff with the peripheral support of their partner.

  • While young children need the immediate emotional and physical support from their parents, parents of adolescents and teens need to see their children fledge from the nest ready to take care of themselves. But that doesn’t mean turning away from them, it means redirecting the energy to help them continue to feel love and support from you!  Organizations like JDRF are a colossal, positive, proactive approach for parents and family members who need an outlet! 

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    So to Judy Hepner and Buddy, kudos for being positively proactive on our behalf, and for inspiring me to remember we have love and support from many people we don’t know! Happy trails!

    To read about Judy and Buddy’s journey and make a donation go to:

Published On: September 17, 2008