Walk With Justin!
The Story of Justin
Last April, Justin Vézina, a 13-year-old with Type 1 diabetes, traveled the long and difficult road to Machu Picchu as a personal challenge and to raise funds for The Diabetic Children’s Foundation.
Thanks to his determination, Justin was able to donate $20,000 to the Diabetic Children’s Foundation to help children and adolescents who, like him, must live with the daily challenges of Type 1 diabetes.
This is a wonderful gesture of courage and generosity that leaves no one indifferent.
The Road to Machu Picchu
The Machu Picchu is an archaeological treasure built in the fifteenth century in the Andes, by the Incas. Because Peruvians wanted to keep the site and its geographic location secret, it was discovered only in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. Today, the Machu Picchu is part of UNESCO’s World Heritage List and attracts many tourists.
Some people visit out of curiosity, for the pleasure of enjoying archaeology. For others, it is a pilgrimage. I decided to go there on foot as a personal challenge.I wanted to create an event that would allow me to raise people’s awareness and at the same time, raise funds for The Diabetic Children’s Foundation.school nurses.
Before leaving, I prepared myself physically by running, body building and playing hockey. I organized information evenings; I went door-to-door, asked people around me and spoke at the UHC Ste-Justine in a training session for
On March 31st, I flew with my parents to Cusco, Peru. We took advantage of the first three days to visit the city and to take short hikes to allow our bodies to adjust to the altitude. On Day 4, we were ready for the expedition. We were heading towards Patacancha and ready to hike in the Urubamba Valley. I chose this route because it is longer and more picturesque. We had to go through small villages, valleys and mountain passes. We walked for five days and camped for four nights. During this trip, we encountered lamas, alpacas, sheep, mules, shepherds and children.
On the fourth day of walking, we climbed towards an impressive pass with an elevation of 600 metres. Since we slept at an altitude of 4100 metres, my dad had to fight the symptoms associated with high altitudes: He was really determined and wanted to finish the trek! After the pass, we took a break and Lissandro, our local guide, wanted us to enjoy an Andean ritual to thank the God of the mountains for our great trip. In the morning, we reached 4,650 metres (15,256 feet) of altitude. Wow! The landscape was fantastic and we were very proud of ourselves. A few pictures and we were off!
￼We encountered bad weather and walked through hail. The road became more difficult. We walked in the water, the ground was slippery and the steep terrain became muddy. Once at the camp for dinner, we really enjoyed the hot soup. By late afternoon, the sun finally came out! It dried and warmed us.Our last camp was located in Cancha Cancha. It was beautiful. We fell asleep to the sound of a stream flowing at high speed. At dawn, a flock of sheep passing in front of our tent woke us up. We took this opportunity to give our last snacks to the two young shepherds.
At the end of the trek we arrived at the Ollantaytambo Village. We visited the archaeological site and in the afternoon, we took the train to Aguas Calientes, a village at the foot of the Machu Picchu. The next day, we went to the site to finish our journey.
Sometimes, the trek required long hours of walking. The road was occasionally steep and required more energy because of the altitude. Even after difficult days, I always felt great. Diabetes was not a hindrance and contrary to my expectations, I had mostly hyperglycaemic episodes despite a controlled diet, physical exercise and tiredness.
Ultimately, I achieved all my goals: educate people, raise $20,000 and prove that a 13 year-old with Type 1 diabetes can do it just as well as anyone.I have been living with Type 1 diabetes for 4 years. Today it is a part of me and the lives of people around me. I just accomplished a project and I am already planning the next one…