In the advocacy spotlight: Daniel Webb

October 11, 2019

Daniel Webb is an adult living with type 1 diabetes who has been an amazing supporter for JDRF and our advocacy program. He is JDRF’s Lead Advocate for Tasmania.

Hello everyone! My name’s Daniel and I’m the Lead Advocate for the small but mighty Tasmanian Team. I joined the JDRF Advocacy Program at the beginning of 2018 and also have a long history of volunteering in the type 1 diabetes community and with JDRF.

Diagnosis & volunteering journey

I was diagnosed in 1995 with type 1 diabetes at the age of six, and fairly quickly started attending diabetes camps. By the time I was in my mid-teens I wasn’t too keen on attending any more but was asked to come back the following year to volunteer as a cabin leader for the junior camps. Doing this led me to realise how much I really enjoyed being involved with such amazing people, and as I got older, I wanted to do more with diabetes. I got involved in the JDRF Peer Support Program and really benefited from the role, but if I’m being completely honest I wasn’t in a great place at the time and was dealing (or struggling to deal with) as-yet-then undiagnosed depression and anxiety, which made contacting strangers, most of them parents of kids with type 1, a hugely daunting task. I regretfully stepped aside as I wasn’t doing the best job that I felt I could. It was then that I decided I would fundraise for the JDRF One Walk.

Fundraising for JDRF One Walk

I’d like to think that my fundraising efforts were what got the attention of the JDRF Advocacy Team, but I’m not sure it was. We’ll get to that. In 2012, I thought that as great as the Walk events were, I wanted to do more, to raise more. So, I decided that if I raised $750, I’d walk from Devonport to Burnie, about 42km. Amazingly I did raise $750, so I did the 42km. I never thought that I’d have that sort of support from friends and family, but I do have some pretty incredible friends and family. As the years went on I upped the ante a little each year and walked a little further along the Tasmanian northern coast (or up and down mountains, you know, for a break) and eventually I had walked, in stages, the length of the northern Tasmanian coastline, from the east coast to the west coast, and up and down 9 mountains. So last year I started going from north to south. As proud as I am of these efforts, I think something else stuck in the mind of the JDRF Advocacy Team.

Getting the attention of the JDRF Advocacy Team

You see, part of my fundraising for the Walks is to offer homemade biscuits to anyone who donates. My theory is that the JDRF Advocacy Team have looked at it and gone, “Not only do we get someone on the ground in Tassie, we may also get our paws on some bikkies.” I’m pretty sure at one stage I was introduced to a team member at JDRF and got “Oh, the biscuit guy!” as a welcome. Which is a reputation I’m not sure I’d ever have thought I’d have but it’s certainly better than others!  I’d rather be known as that than as the idiot who ruins his feet and legs (and everything else) by walking everywhere. Also, someone has to taste test every batch of biscuits, and if I’m already there making them…

What motivates me

A lot of things drive me to fundraise for JDRF and to be part of the Advocacy Program. I’ve met some truly amazing people over the years, be it educators and nurses at the diabetes camps who were my inspiration to study (and ultimately drop out 90% of the way through, but that’s a story for another day) nursing, the dedicated and passionate JDRF staff who go above and beyond what is reasonably expected of them, the parents who do so much to help make their kids’ lives as easy as possible even if it means sleepless nights and constant worry, or those living with T1D themselves who just get on with life even though we all know how difficult it is.

I’ve been very privileged to be part of these communities and have done things I’d never have done if I wasn’t. Most importantly, T1D has never stopped me; I’ve played rugby, I work on an oyster farm, I’ve trekked in Patagonia and done all sorts of things that maybe I gloss over with my educator. I try and make diabetes be a part of me rather than let it be my whole life but ultimately, I’ve been through the hard times. The repeat hospital admissions with DKA, the hypos with terrible timings, the pump dying an hour from home and not knowing because it was 2005 and they didn’t have back up batteries to alarm, the incredible frustration of WHY IS MY SUGAR LEVEL DOING THAT, pretty much all of it. And as incredible as the community is, I’d rather it didn’t exist because it would mean nobody has to deal with the type of rubbish, we all have to deal with daily. One day there won’t be a need for advocacy and fundraising and camps, for support groups and peer support. I hope this day is much sooner than it is later, but until then I’m proud to be part of such a dedicated, passionate community.

Learn more about JDRF’s Advocacy Program.