Athlete with diabetes encourages Truro children to overcome obstacles

Published on March 28, 2014

TRURO – Hundreds of Truro Elementary School students started their day on Friday with a very symbolic run.

About 250 students, in Grades 3 to 5, cheered and clapped as Sebastien Sasseville arrived at the school shortly after 8 a.m. Sasseville, a 34-year-old climber, endurance athlete and Ironman from Quebec, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002. He began Run Across Canada to Outrun Diabetes in St. John's, Nfld last month. He’s running across Canada solo and covering a total of 7,500 kilometres - the equivalent of 180 marathons. His goal is to raise a million dollars for diabetes research and to arrive in Vancouver on Nov. 14 for World Diabetes Day.

“I didn’t get much sleep last night but you are giving me energy. This was the best welcome,” Sasseville told the children before they went for a small run on school property with him.

Some of the questions children asked the runner included how far he runs a day (30 to 40 kilometres in three to five hours) and what are his inspirations.

“Friends, family and athletes,” Sasseville answered, adding he wants people to know positives can come out of obstacles or challenging situations.

“You can live well with diabetes. It starts with accepting it and choosing to do something good,” he told the Truro Daily News.

He said it’s important to get that message out to all people, especially children, so they can be educated at a young age and hopefully embrace that message as part of their lifestyle.

One child who was thrilled to be reunited with Sasseville was five-year-old Jack Crawford, a Grade Primary student at Truro elementary who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last summer. The youngster and his family participated in a five km run in Halifax last weekend with Sasseville.

Jack gave him a hug Friday morning and passed him homemade notes, two of which said, ‘good to see you again’ and ‘I love you.’

Jack’s mom, Sonya, is a Grade 5 teacher at the school and was touched with Sasseville’s visit.

“He’s such an inspiration and showing the children you can beat obstacles,” said Sonya.

According to Sasseville’s website, he has delivered more than 200 keynotes addresses since 2005. He has also led groups of teens living with type 1 diabetes to the summit of the highest peak in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro (2005) and to Mount Everest Base camp in Nepal (2007). He also competed in the mythical Sahara Race in Egypt, a 250 km self-supported ultra-marathon in 2008.

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