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Saturday, September 24, 2022
NOTL hero Maya Webster needs help in quest to cure diabetes
Maya Webster needs donations for her diabetes fundraising team, Marchers for Maya, so she can help find the cure for diabetes.
Maya Webster needs donations for her diabetes fundraising team, Marchers for Maya, so she can help find the cure for diabetes. File/Evan Saunders

Coming off a whirlwind of media and cheers for her efforts in getting many people with Type 1 diabetes covered for continuous glucose monitoring systems, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Maya Webster is setting her sights higher.

She wants a cure for diabetes.

Having met the tenacious 10-year-old on several occasions, I think diabetes is facing a tough and tenacious opponent.

“We’re gonna try to raise more money and need people to sponsor us to raise awareness. We’re trying to get the word out,” Maya said in an interview at her Glendale home on Wednesday.

Maya is working with JDRF Canada to fundraise for the “Let’s Make History Again” program, which marks the 100th anniversary of the first insulin treatment and is seeking to raise $15 million toward a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

“I think it’s pretty special that it’s the 100-year anniversary of the first diabetic getting treated with insulin,” Maya said.

Insulin is a lifesaving Canadian invention for people living with diabetes. But Maya wants everyone to understand that insulin cannot be the end of the road for diabetics.

“Insulin is a treatment, it’s not a full cure. So, I think that it’s really important that we keep going further and further to find a cure,” she said with the gusto of a seasoned public speaking professional.

“I’m still really happy that we have this insulin, though, and that it’s been 100 years.”

“But, ‘It is a treatment, not a cure!’ ” she suddenly cried out as she burst up from her chair and pumped her fist in the air as if leading a chant outside Parliament.

“We are going to keep going until we find a cure.”

Maya explained some of the feats Canadians with diabetes and other demonstrators will be taking part in to raise awareness.

From April 4 to 8, hundreds of people are going to be sleeping in tents to raise awareness and money for Type 1 diabetes research.

“I think the tent thing is a good way to celebrate and to say, ‘We are going in. Progress!’ ” she shouted once again.

During that same week in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary, five Canadians will live for 100 hours atop 40-foot flagpoles to spread awareness.

“The reason the flagpole is actually happening is because (a principal of the Oliver and Bonacini restaurant empire) Peter Oliver, his daughter, Vanessa Oliver, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1990,” Maya said.

“Because of this he wanted to raise more awareness. So, he went on top of a flagpole and stayed there for a few days trying to raise awareness and trying to help find a cure for everyone, not just his daughter.”

Oliver chose to go on top of a flagpole to represent the isolation and danger people living with Type 1 diabetes face every day, according to JDRF Canada’s website. He raised $250,000 for diabetes research.

“I’m questioning how they’re gonna get up there,” Maya said.

“There will probably be a ladder,” her mother Christi Webster answered.

Maya wanted to assure everyone there would be a platform at the top of the flagpoles and the demonstrators wouldn’t be balancing on one foot for 100 hours, something the energetic 10-year-old couldn’t help but act out.

Maya was recently given a certificate of recognition by Lord Mayor Betty Disero for her achievements.

“That was pretty exciting,” she said.

“It’s good to know that’s how far me and my Type 1 diabetes team have come. It felt really good to know that we got that.”

Maya needs corporate and individual sponsors in order to raise money for the cure for diabetes.

Her team, March for Maya, has raised nearly $700 so far.

To donate to Maya’s team, go to jdrf.akaraisin.com/ui/LetsMakeHistoryAgain, in the top right corner click “find a fundraiser/team” and enter Maya Webster. Her team should be the only one that appears.