We all dream of giving diabetes a big Chuck Norris roundhouse kick in the stomach, right? Well, 16-year-old Canadian Chase Pelletier and his dad, Dave, are taking out their aggressions on diabetes in a more unconventional way.
During the half-day event on Nov. 24, a total 160 people with varying belts degrees in karate — including four PWDs with type 1 diabetes and two with type 2 diabetes — will showcase techniques in Goju Karate, Tai Chi, Kobudo, and Ju Jutsu. Plus, 88 participants will attempt to set a Guinness World Record by performing a Kata, a detailed choreographed pattern of movements used in martial arts.
If you're like me and near heard of Kata before, check out this video.
"AMA had a history of supporting worthwhile causes so we approached them about tackling diabetes as their next mission, and Karate Chops Diabetes began to take shape," Dave explained. "We wanted to showcase how people living with diabetes could overcome the challenges. What better way than to hold a karate marathon where people living with diabetes, along with their family members and other karate students within AMA who wanted to support the cause, could put together teams to participate and to raise funds for JDRF?"
To raise the $250,000, the martial arts students must donate themselves in order to participate, while companies including Johnson and Johnson's OneTouch and Animas are sponsoring the event.
A little rusty on your kung-fu? The Pelletiers have also set up an online challenge called the Virtual Board Break App, which allows you to post your own biggest challenge with diabetes and then you "break that challenge" with a virtual karate chop.
For every board "broken," $1 is donated up to 900 boards, with money donated from U.S.-Canadian safety and alarm company SimplexGrinell. It's pretty fun, although I nearly had a heart attack the first time I did it. Be prepared — the sound effect is loud! They also have a neato map that shows where in the world all the different board-breaking participants live.
This is not the first time Chase has used his athletic talents to raise awareness for diabetes. In addition to karate, Chase has been racing karts (a more advanced form of go-karts) since he was 10 years old. After his diagnosis in 2007, Chase used his kart racing hobby to form an inspirational program called Get Your Diabetes Management On Track for kids and families dealing with the challenges of diabetes.
In June, Chase received a black belt in Goju karate, which his dad describes as "close-quarter defensive practices and the ability to adapt to adversity." After receiving his black belt, Chase and his dad were inspired to use martial arts similar to how they used karting.
"In the face of a physical attack or the stress of everyday life, the philosophy and principles taught in Goju Karate make this a perfect classical system in today's world," Dave says. "It has proven to provide a solid anchor for Chase in how he faces the challenges of living with diabetes as well as the challenges of everyday life."
Although managing diabetes with karate has been challenging, Chase says there have been some unexpected benefits.
"A big thing in karate is awareness," he explains. "Awareness of things around you, but also awareness of our own bodies. I think that karate has helped me be very aware of what is happening inside my body as well as how things that I do affect my body."
Chase also has advice for others in his shoes: "The main thing that I would tell teens with diabetes is that you can do anything you want, as long as you put your diabetes management first. It would be great if we didn't have to deal with it, but until they find a cure, we can't ignore it. Everything is way better if your blood sugar is where it should be."
And dad Dave says, "The very best thing we did was to help him understand that he could still do anything he wanted in life — that diabetes couldn't stand in his way if he was determined not to allow it to."
Thanks for kickin' some diabetes butt, Chase and Dave! Gambatte Kudasai! (That's Japanese for good luck!)
We can't wait to join in (by end of day of Nov. 24) with our own virtual board-breaking karate chops — Hi-YAH!