Neve Power says having diabetes does not change who she is.

The plucky 11-year-old Whakatane girl was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes five years ago after her parents noticed she was thirsty all the time, sometimes needing to drink water every five minutes.

Power is pragmatic about her treatment, which requires testing her blood sugar levels 10 times a day.

"When I'm at school, one of my friends usually comes with me to the office when I test myself, so that's good," she says.


More than 240,000 New Zealanders have been diagnosed with diabetes, an auto-immune disease where the body attacks cells that make insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented or cured and requires regular insulin injections.

Type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity and can be managed through diet and exercise, especially if caught early.

Power is conscious that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential to living with diabetes.

"I always try and eat healthy food. I can still have treats, just not all the time. I usually eat before I do exercise and then test my blood sugar levels. I also try to eat something and test my levels during my run because they can change when I'm doing different types of exercise."

Power is an ambassador for the Podium Ohope Express, a 5km, 10km or 21km run or walk to raise funds for the Diabetic Exercise and Sports Association of New Zealand (DESA).

On Easter Saturday, she will line up alongside other ambassadors on picturesque Ohope Beach for the third running of the event, where she will compete in the 5km run, accompanied by her parents.

Event organiser Mike van der Boom organised the inaugural Ohope Express in 2014.

"Diabetes affects one in 20 New Zealanders and we can help by raising awareness and funds, while providing fun events that help people achieve an active and healthy lifestyle.

"The Podium Ohope Express draws runners from all walks of life, as is reflected in the varied reasons for entering: some set athletic goals, others do it for health reasons and yet more get behind the event charity."

Entry to the 5km run-walk is by gold coin donation and all funds go to DESA. The 10km and half-marathon participants can add a donation to their registration fee or sign up to Canter for a Cause, pledging to raise a minimum of $200.

Previous fundraising contributed towards a four-day camp for young people coming to terms with a recent diagnosis, and DESA committee member Mark Leydon was thrilled with the support.

"It can be daunting for kids when first diagnosed with the disease. Providing an environment where others are going through the same situation is really important," says Leydon.

Power agrees: "When I was diagnosed at age six, I would have loved to go to something like this because at the beginning [diabetes] can be quite scary. Getting to know other kids who have the same issues and hearing from experts all in one place is a really good idea."

Fellow ambassador Hamish Yates, 30, will join Power on the flat, fast and stunning course this year. Yates works for IDEA supporting adults with intellectual disabilities. He took up endurance sport after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

"I'm passionate about the interplay between Type 1 diabetes and exercise, particularly overcoming obstacles and motivating others to pursue physical activity," he says.

Like Power, Yates does not allow diabetes to dominate his life.

"I try to eat all the good stuff and make sure to train hard enough so I can treat myself to some guilty pleasures every now and then."

His advice for others with diabetes is that "there is no substitute for training, so do it - do what you find fun and it won't feel like training".

Event details
Podium Ohope Express
What: 5k, 10k, half marathon run or walk
When: Saturday, March 26
Where: Ohope, Bay of Plenty

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