WATERBURY, Vt. — A Northfield man with Type 1 diabetes has been keeping himself busy with a big challenge that he hopes will help raise money for others living with his condition.
Brad Johnson and his wife Emily Levan are on a 210-mile run up Route 100. They began at the Massachusetts border last Thursday, and will likely reach the Canadian border by this Thursday. They’re doing it to help raise money for Gifford Healthcare’s diabetes clinic in Randolph, and in turn, provide others living with Type 1 access to the same medical equipment that allows Brad to take on a challenge like this.
“They’re kind, they listen, they’re supportive,” Johnson said. “I come in with crazy ideas like running the length of Vermont and they say great, let’s go ahead and figure out how to do it.”
“We were really happy to have the opportunity to give back to a resource that’s been so giving to us,” Levan said.
The run has brought the two through Londonderry, Ludlow, Pittsfield, Rochester, Hancock, Granville, Warren, and a host of other Vermont towns. On Tuesday evening, Brad and Emily stopped by Ben and Jerry’s in Waterbury, where they took some well-deserved time off the road to visit their daughter and their dog before heading out for the final leg of their journey.
“It’ll be a really nice accomplishment to have under our belts, and a nice way to put the cherry on top of this trip and this fundraising effort for Gifford Healthcare,” Levan said.
“You always have the opportunity to quit and let it get the better of you, but when you strip it all away, what you really have is the choice not to do that, and that feels valuable to me as a diabetic,” Johnson said.
Needless to say, it takes a lot of motivation to go on a run the length of eight marathons. Brad and Emily have been logging nearly 35 miles per day on their journey, always making sure to take in the picturesque Vermont views along the way. In refusing to let Type 1 diabetes slow him down, Brad has helped raise awareness and money, and he’s also managed to make some new friends along the way.
“We ran into a young man today who handed us three dollars as a donation to Gifford because he has a friend who’s a diabetic, and that’s the kindness we’ve seen from lots of people,” Johnson said. “Kids and adults who ask what we’re doing, where we’re going – just kind people, and that’s been my takeaway so far.”
Gifford Health Care’s diabetes clinic is located at the Kingwood Health Center in Randolph. Gifford operates a community hospital in Randolph as well, and family health centers in Berlin, Bethel, Chelsea, Randolph and Rochester, and specialty services throughout central Vermont.
Since 2007, the Kingwood Center, located on Route 66 in Randolph, provides diabetes education, blood glucose monitoring, nutrition and exercise counseling, and medication and prevention advice, as well as help for special patient needs.