Humans of Geelong Book Launch
It was an incredible honour to be keynote speaker and share my journey at the Humans in Geelong Book Launch in Geelong this month. The opportunity to share why I started our amazing community that is the Type1 Foundation and to share how a diagnosis changes your life forever.
Below is a transcript of my speech from the event.
Firstly, I would like to thank you for allowing me to speak today. And to tell you what an honour it is.
To the Major of Geelong, to the inspirational Humans in Geelong committee, in particular Jacqui Bennett who has been such a support to me personally over the years. I’m truly humbled to be able to share my journey. And most of all to be featured in this amazing and inspirational coffee table book about game changers all over Geelong.
My name is Ange Liston McCaughley and I am the founder and CEO of the Type1 Foundation, a national charity for families living with Type1 Diabetes.
My journey began back in 2013, I was just a normal everyday mum of 4 children all under 9 years of age. To say life was busy is probably underselling it, and you could imagine that it doesn’t leave a lot of time for exercise. In fact, to my own admission, I probably hadn’t exercised in over 10 years.
But when my eldest daughter, Lila, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, our lives changed forever.
To complicate things more, at the time we were away on holidays soaking up some Qld sun when our daughter became terribly unwell. Concerned, we rushed her to the doctor for the 3rd time in a few weeks. We were desperate for answers as her symptoms were inconsistent and her condition deteriorating by the minute.
While it might have only been a matter of hours, that time without answers felt like an eternity. It was clear something was terribly wrong, but without a diagnosis there was no chance of things improving. We were panicked and desperate and frightened beyond imagination for our once healthy little girl.
Eventually we were informed that Lila’s symptoms were consistent with Type 1 diabetes and in the next breath they told us that she was an hour off falling into a coma, possibly needing to be airlifted out of the Gold Coast if she didn’t improve within minutes.
It’s hard to remember the full details of that day - it all felt like a dream. But I do distinctly remember feeling totally helpless and entirely clueless on how Type 1 would affect her for life. It’s this memory that motivates me daily to help ensure parents going through this similar experience have somewhere to turn to.
The wait was unbearable as she lay in ICU fighting for her life from diabetic ketoacidodis. A serious diabetes complication where the body produces excess blood acids (ketones).
This condition occurs when there isn't enough insulin in the body.
Thankfully, we were one of the lucky ones and our daughter’s condition improved and thus began our new life with Type1 Diabetes.
An incurable, lifelong and non preventable disease. Most commonly diagnosed in childhood with the most common age within the families we support is now 2 years old.
We were taught how to inject insulin into our little girl between the screams of pain, test blood sugars via finger prick. It was also drilled into us from day one the seriousness of it all and how if not managed correctly we faced the possibility of deadly complications in the future. Then we were waved goodbye at the hospital doors and left to pick up our lives from where we left off. There was quite simply no support.
Isolated and overwhelmed at the time, to add to the stress, I also had a 4 week old baby and was at the height of exhaustion. As we came to grips with the routine of waking every hour , firstly to feed the baby, and waking to monitor Lila’s blood sugar, and not to mention coping with all the mental and physical demands this new life created, I just knew I needed a circuit breaker.
That’s when one day I jumped up off the couch and declared to my family I was going to run a marathon! Not just any marathon it was going to be one of the toughest the greatest, the Great Ocean Rd marathon . I must add, I had never run over 5ks and didn’t know if it was possible but I was determined to give it a go and no sensible advice anyone said to me was going to stop me.
This circuit breaker wasn’t just a chance for me to clear my head and get some exercise, it also quickly became a chance to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes in my local community.
“Initially I just wanted to create as much awareness as possible so that my child will never feel isolated growing up or different in the future.”
What I didn’t know at the time was that the power of running would turn one marathon into ten, so in 1 year I ran every marathon in every state of Australia wearing a brightly coloured pink tutu. This tutu became my signature. I launched it all over social media page called A Mums Marathon Run for Type1 and soon enough had 1000’s of engaged followers and supporters.
My tutu became so well known in the marathon circles that fellow runners and crowds of people waved, cheered and screamed for my name at every corner. Hard to believe but after about 25ks I would often even forget I was wearing the tutu, until the crowd would remind me..
This in turn raised massive media awareness not only in the Geelong community but also nationwide.
Upon returning from running my final marathon in Alice Springs. With the funds raised all around Australia. My husband and I established a foundation right here In Geelong that now assists Type 1 families across the nation.
The Type1 Foundation was created just 4 years ago and has grown significantly due to demand.
We started off supporting just 5 local Geelong families after their child’s diagnosis with Type1 and we now proudly support nearly 1000 families all around Australia. With our uniqueness of support and connection being number 1.
We send care packages for newly dx families Australia wide, host free family events, Christmas Party. We fully fund Kids Diabetes Camps. We host mums dinners all over Australia, to help them connect with one another. We also proudly support and connect families in rural areas who have never even met another child with Type1
Last year I completed my 12th and final Marathon and have since hung up my tutu. I ran in the New York Marathon and it was the most incredible experience of my life. I ran along with tears in my eyes for most of the 42ks. Struggling to believe that my crazy idea of jumping off the couch that day to start running could have taken me to such heights. I have also personally raised over $80k for Type1 Diabetes and decided last year with much sadness that my marathon journey must finish there.
But my role as the passionate and driven CEO of this local charity is only just beginning. We have huge ideas, my brain literally doesn’t stop ticking over. It’s our plan to expand the charity into every state replicating our strong model of care.
It’s my hope that my journey can inspire you to support a charity close to your heart or create change within your community.
Thank you for for your time today. It was an absolute honour.