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BANGOR, Maine — Life doesn’t always deal people the best hand, but there are some people who show the world it isn’t about the hand at all.
BJ Garceau was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 12 years old.
“I had doctors tell me I wouldn’t live probably past the age of anywhere from 20 to 30,” Garceau said.
Now, nearing her 40th birthday, she’s continuing to defy the limits that were always set for her. Her next test: the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6.
Garceau is one of 50 Type 1 diabetics in the country selected to run the marathon in support of diabetes awareness and to raise money for Beyond Type 1.
Growing up, she was constantly reminded of what this disease would do to her rather than what she was capable of while living with the disease.
“I never thought I would even be able to run a mile, to be honest with you,” she said. Yet, she’s currently training to run 26.
The marathon is her latest form of fundraising, but she found another, even more interesting outlet to raise funds for herself and others to help afford life-saving medical supplies.
Garceau has raised more than $8,000 through mixed martial arts. She started MMA fighting in 2017 and has been able to raise those funds with the help of small businesses and friends throughout the community.
“She’s one of the toughest people I’ve ever met,” Chris Young, Garceau’s MMA coach, said.
While she claims his support has changed her life, Young said she has changed his perspective.
“When you add another layer of having to deal with this, and she does it with grace, and that’s something that I would like all my athletes to take from her,” Young said.
While her determination and tenacity may be second to none, there are still some days that knock her down. In those moments, she said it’s crucial to keep her eyes on the prize.
“Some days, my blood sugar is so off I can’t even run out my door. I have to sit at home and take insulin or eat something,” she said. “It doesn’t matter; I’m not going to give up.”
Levi Sewall, the head boxing coach at Thunderpig Boxing, said Garceau’s decision to run the marathon isn’t surprising to him at all.
“What do you think the world could learn from her?” Sewall said, “If you want to do it, go do it. Simple.”
“[I] just want to let people know, if you have dreams, they can come true even if people tell you they can’t,” Garceau said. “I’m going to use my feet while I still have them. I’m going to run while I still can because, honestly, with a disease like this and everything I’ve gone through, I don’t know how much time I have left.”
If you’re interested in donating to help Garceau hit her $3,000 fundraising goal for the NYC Marathon, here’s a link to her fundraising page. Click here if you’re interested in purchasing a special line of her apparel. All proceeds go toward Beyond Type 1.
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