It’s a question that was asked of me when I rejoined Team Diabetes in the summer of 2009. It had been nearly 6 yrs since I had last run with Team D and the prospect of running a marathon on Rapa Nui had lured me back in when I received an alumni email 14 months earlier.
Team Diabetes is an arm of the Canadian Diabetes Association where people raise money and run (or walk or ride) in events across Canada and around the world. I did my first Team Diabetes in Iceland in 2003, but hadn’t been on another one until I received the 2008 email announcing Easter Island as a 2009 destination.
“So, where are you going next?,” the voice repeated.
I hadn’t really thought of it, to be honest. While I enjoyed running with Team Diabetes and exploring the world and going on adventures, I hadn’t really thought about where I would go next. The events felt like ‘one-offs’ to me and I’d get to it when I got to it.
“Where are you going next?,” the question still lingered in the air, unanswered.
Harry Flint was the one asking me the question. Easter Island had been his 12th event with Team Diabetes. He had joined in 2005, a few years after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Take too long to answer the “Where are you going next?” question and Harry will fill the empty air with his own story. “Saved my life,” Harry will say. Since 2005 he has completed 28 Team Diabetes events raising over $100 000 along the way. He’s met so many people at each event, many of whom have become life long friends.
Count me on that list.
Eventually, a few weeks after we left Easter Island, I would answer Harry’s question. I’d go to Rio de Janeiro. I’d run the Brazilian event in the summer of 2010. Then Iceland in 2011. Then Scotland in 2013. Then Bermuda in 2015. In the summer of 2016 I will run my 7th Team Diabetes event with my 2 young sons as registered members at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia.
“Where are you going next?” is a question I consistently ask myself now, without Harry’s nudging.
I’m sharing this story because I have nominated Harry Flint for the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award.
Created in 1995, the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award recognizes individuals who volunteer their time to help others and build a smarter and more caring nation. The award also highlights the fine example set by these volunteers, whose compassion and engagement are so much a part of our Canadian character.
That’s Harry Flint.
The award recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad.
I’m not the only one Harry has asked “where are you going next?” to. He makes a point of finding Team Diabetes rookies at every event and encourages them to come back and do it again. Through Harry’s encouragement, more people are committed to Team D and come back again and again to do more events, raising more money and awareness in their communities.
On the streets from Hanga Roa to Edinburgh, Harry is a smiling face who will proudly share the story of Team Diabetes with people around the world. Success in the fight against diabetes is a uniquely Canadian story. Sir Frederick Banting made the first giant leap, and with ambassadors like Harry Flint inspiring others around the world, the final barrier is sure to fall soon.
If you have someone who inspires you please nominate them for the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award.
Here’s a profile of a previous recipient, Luc Racine.
Nominations can be made directly through the Governor General of Canada’s website at caring.gg.ca.
There is no deadline for nomination as ceremonies are held throughout the year, in communities across Canada. The award, consists of a letter, a certificate and a lapel pin. Here’s more information.
Oh, and where’s Harry going next? He’ll be running in Munich this October. He’ll be joining the team in Hawaii this September as a volunteer, and at 63, he’s making plans for his final Team Diabetes event next year in Ireland.
Along the way he has given Team Diabetes momentum and has inspired others to ask of each other “Where are you going next?”
UPDATE July 22, 2015: This morning I received word from the Governor General’s office that Harry Flint has been selected to receive the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award!! The ceremony will be held in the next few weeks. Such a deserving honouree.
This post has been generously sponsored by the Rideau Hall Foundation, but opinions and language are my own and in no way reflect those of the sponsor.