Read stories from our hero fundraisers. Whether it’s running, cycling, walking or jumping, we’re lucky to have people push themselves to the limit and join us in fighting for a world where diabetes can do no harm.

Helen celebrating finishing her one million steps

HelenWalking in memory of her dad and brother, David, who died of type 2 diabetes complications

Raising funds for a good cause

 At the end of the challenge, my fundraising went berserk. People were donating £50 and £100 at a time. It hits home then that you’ve done something special; that you must have touched a few people having raised £911.91. 

There’s always a need for research into diabetes. I think the money I’ve raised will be used wisely and will hopefully make the lives of people living with diabetes easier. I also hope it will help promote exercise and prevention of type 2 diabetes. 

I think prevention is very important. I’ve met people through this challenge who have turned their type 2 diabetes around. I keep telling my partner he could achieve remission too. I also want to do as much as I can to prevent myself from getting type 2 diabetes. 

Read Helen's complete story
Neil looks to the camera wearing warm clothes

Neil HunterDiagnosed with type 2 in 2005

Challenging myself

Around the time I was medically discharged from the Navy, me and a friend who I’d travelled to the Himalayas with, were talking about rowing across the Atlantic. The medical discharge allowed me to take a year out, buy the boat, do the training. There was no time to think, ‘oh woe is me,’ I just threw myself into the rowing project and thought I’d pick up the pieces when I come back.

They don’t come much bigger than the Atlantic trip. It took 67 days, and we raised around £30,000 for Diabetes UK. Looking back, I think, ‘crikey how did we do that?’ There were times when there was about 5,000 metres of water beneath us and we were several hundred miles away from land. And we were swimming. I don’t like going out of my depth at the coast when I’m on holiday!

Fortunately, my diabetes was absolutely perfect. It was such a routine. We rowed two hours on two hours off around the clock. The sleep deprivation was probably the biggest thing that we had to face. I was lucky enough to be put in touch with Dr Ian Gallen, who is Sir Steve Redgrave’s specialist. During the challenge, I uploaded my blood sugars from my monitor onto a laptop and sent them back via satellite phone and he wrote a medical paper about them.

From an early-ish age, there are two subjects I’ve been a bit obsessed with. One is Everest and George Mallory, and the other one is Captain Scott at the south Pole. They’re the heroic failure that the Brits like!

After rowing across the Atlantic, I was thinking about what I could do next and I decided I wanted to go to the south Pole. Me and my friend did some Arctic training in Norway, learning how to pull a sledge across the ice and deal with the extreme cold.  

About two years ago, I started thinking properly about going to the Pole. I started training and it went from there.


Read Neil Hunter's complete story
mary's story

Mary HamiltonDiagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1980

How the One Million Step Challenge has impacted me

Diabetes UK raises an incredible amount of money and they seem to be the main researchers into diabetes in this country. I’d just love them to find a cure. You see these little kiddies, on a pump, their mum too frightened to go to sleep. Wouldn’t it be lovely to find a cure for them? That’s why I got involved in the One Million Step Challenge.

I first saw the challenge advertised on Facebook three years ago. I signed up, but I was recovering from a bad accident and I had to give up. I could hardly walk down the road some days. It was the thought of raising money for diabetes that pushed me to try again.  

The following year, I walked and walked and walked. This year, I was determined to do it again. I finished the challenge over a week early and raised around £850.

Through the challenge, I’ve met such a lovely group of people. We support each other. I think if you have a chronic illness, other people often aren’t interested. If I can go on the One Million Step Facebook group and say I’ve been having a rubbish day with my sugars and I’m really fed-up, I get hints from other people about how they avoid hypos on long walks. It’s lovely.  

The One Million Steps Challenge has educated me. We’re a good group and we teach each other a lot. I’ve not just met other people with type 1, I’ve learned about type 2 as well. People say to me, ‘oh, you’ve got the bad diabetes.’ All diabetes is bad. They’ve all got the same complications. When you talk to people, you realise there aren’t many people whose lives haven’t been touched by diabetes.

A lot of people I’ve met through the One Million Step Challenge, especially some of the people with type 2, their HbA1c is incredibly improved. Some of them may be able to come off their medication. A lot of people have lost weight, feel better, and have improved their blood sugars as well. It’s really heartening to see the impact it’s had for some people. 

It was a nice thing to focus on during the coronavirus pandemic. You get to know people who are out walking their dogs or whatever. Walking is quite a nice way to keep in touch with people over lockdown. You get to see people. I think this challenge has saved a lot of people’s sanity, particularly for people who live on their own. They say that getting out and making themselves go out has made a big difference. When you go on a regular walk, you get to know people. You smile and say hello, pat their dogs. It’s kept me going.

It’s helped my diabetes management, too. If my sugar’s a bit high I’ll go for a walk and it’ll bring my sugar down. Now in the evening, if I’ve eaten something that’s set my sugar high, I’ll just go for a little walk and keep checking it and when it’s started coming down I’d go home.

Continuing to fundraise

This year, my partner and I decided to do Dry January in aid of Diabetes UK. I posted about it on Facebook and got some donations through, and because it was going so well - we continued it into February. We did have one day where we had a small glass of red to celebrate Valentine's Day - but that was it. We both felt so good for it, and I feel humbled by all the donations I received, mainly from my Million Step friends. We managed to hit £250!

Read Mary Hamilton's complete story
Skids' story

Skids BradshawDiagnosed with type 2 diabetes aged 46 and raising awareness

Walking to raise money

Before signing up for My Wellness Walk I hadn’t been involved in fundraising for Diabetes UK but I am interested in raising money for a cause close to me and to heighten awareness among friends and family about diabetes and what can be done to deal with it. If all goes well I would definitely be up for more events in the future! I haven't been involved with Diabetes UK before now but will be looking to do more in the future with the charity as a source of help and advice if needed.

Read Skids Bradshaw's complete story
Shannon with her daughter on her shoulders, laughing in the countryside

ShannonDiagnosed with type 1 while 28 weeks pregnant with daughter Bronwen

Running the marathon

Diabetes UK offer their runners so much help leading up to the marathon. We had access to nutritional information and dietitians to help us. We had training days where we could go to their headquarters in London and have personal trainers help with our training. 

There were also Facebook groups specifically for Diabetes UK runners and fundraisers and the community spirit on there was incredible. We all shared our Strava data, which helped keep me motivated because the feeling of competition would encourage me to go out and train. 

All those things combined were really great. You really felt part of a team, even though running the marathon is a solo thing. And seeing everyone in their Diabetes UK tops on the day was great. If we saw someone in a Diabetes UK top, we’d yell encouragement and others would do the same for us. It was really great. 

We were the top fundraisers that year. You aim to raise £1800 each, and we raised just over £5,000 in total. 

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