Community News
April 15, 2018 By Denise Barnard
A big thank you to our volunteers!

Meet three of our 2018 volunteer award winners, and find out how and why they are committed to making a difference in the lives of the 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes.“I feel like I belong to a larger group of people. Working with Diabetes Canada, I know that I am part of a community of people, passionate and dedicated to helping make lives better,” says Oria James, winner of the 2018 Regional Young Volunteer Award for Vancouver Island. When Oria was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 10, she remembers feeling guilt and shame. She didn't understand the causes of the disease, and lay in her hospital bed “thinking of every bad thing I had ever done that [must have] made me deserve having diabetes.” With no one her own age to share her fears and frustrations about living with a chronic illness, she felt alone. After attending D-Camps, Oria gained the confidence and self-esteem she needed to not only better manage her diabetes, but to start sharing her story as a volunteer.“In March 2000, I was at my local running store in Calgary and came across a brochure for Team Diabetes.  My nephew, Jason, had recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of three, and I thought this would be a good way to support him [by raising funds for research and more,]” says Michelle Simonin, winner of a 2018 National Volunteer Award.  Eighteen years later, Michelle has fundraised and run and hiked in 18 events that have taken her and now her partner, Derek, around the world. “I will be volunteering for Diabetes Canada until a cure has been found,” she says."My struggle with obesity and diabetes has been long and challenging. It wasn't until I decided to take responsibility for myself and my disease that my life started to change,” says Rainier Ward, of the Metepenagiag First Nation in New Brunswick. He is the winner of the Kurt Kroesen Inspiration Award given to an individual or family who “has overcome great odds to manage their diabetes and continue to live a fulfilling, active and inspiring life.” Rainier started drinking at the age of 13, and has been sober since he was 20 years old. A few years later, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which has claimed the lives of many members of his family. After experiencing diabetes denial, Rainier began to change his life through diet and exercise. Diabetes Canada’s Live Well | Bien Vivre program is working with Rainier and Metepenagiag Health, where he helps other youth. “I hope to spread the message of health and recovery to my people,” he says, adding, “I have a long way to go, [and] receiving this award shows me I am on the right path and hopefully will be for a long time."

During National Volunteer Week, Diabetes Canada thanks Oria, Michelle, Rainier, and the many others who give back. Find out more about how to become a volunteer today!

Why do you volunteer? Tell us now.

Do you have a personal story of how your diabetes diagnosis has affected you or someone you know? Fill in our easy personal story submission form, and you and your story could appear in myDC community content. 

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