People to Know 2015: Chris Clark
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of witnessing one of the most amazing athletic competitions: Ultraman Florida, a three-day triathlon featuring a 6.2-mile swim with a 261.4-mile bike ride and a 52.4-mile run. Even more amazing? Chris Clark, the athlete who came in sixth of 40 racers, has type 1 diabetes.
Chris’s journey has been arduous and awe inspiring. He grew up playing sports, had a successful college swimming career, then was diagnosed with diabetes in 2003.
For the next several years, Chris’s health deteriorated. He didn’t have health insurance and couldn’t afford insulin or blood glucose testing supplies. For a full year, he lived on a $1-per-day food budget. There were times when he couldn’t get out of bed for two or three days.
A couple of type 1 athletes speaking at a local hospital in 2010 changed his life. Hearing their stories lit a flame in Chris that he hadn’t felt for years. Two days later, Chris laced up his sneakers and went for a run. He ran for 47 seconds … then collapsed in the neighbor’s yard.
Fast forward to 2015. During Ultraman Florida, he swam, cycled, and ran while frequently monitoring his blood glucose and eating carbs to prevent lows.
But the competition was about more than besting his race times. Chris hopes to inspire others the way those type 1 athletes inspired him years ago. So a mile from the finish line, Chris asked his team to find 12-year-old Luke Rosser, who had recently been diagnosed with type 1. Together they ran the last quarter mile to the finish line.
Having lived with type 1 diabetes for the past 45 years, I cannot even fathom attempting to do what Chris has accomplished. His drive and determination are amazing to witness. And his goal of entering every Ultraman event on the planet will serve as an inspiration to everyone with diabetes, whether they are world-class athletes or not.
Jerry A. Brown, DMD, CDE, is a retired dentist who spent nearly three years volunteering at the University of South Florida’s Diabetes Center. He’s a certified diabetes educator and member of the Advocacy Leadership Committee and Community Leadership Board for the Tampa Bay branch of the Southwest Florida American Diabetes Association.
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