Carlson wins diabetes ‘celebrity challenge’

Petrina Carlson, with the local branch of the Royal Bank of Canada, was named the winner of the Valley Diabetes Education Centre’s “Celebrity Challenge” at the wrap-up dinner Thursday night at La Place Rendez-Vous.
“This was the hardest thing I ever did, besides having a child,” Carlson laughed when she received the trophy.
Twelve local celebrities participated in the challenge that had them living as diabetics for one week, including following a strict diet and checking their blood sugar levels twice a day with a finger poke.
Challengers also had to carry around a teddy bear representing their diabetes during the week. The bear received shots of a saline solution representing insulin twice a day.
“It was definitely a learning experience and I’m just glad to experience it. It’s changed my life,” Carlson remarked.
Rather than a teddy bear, Carlson had a small plush lion which had been used in two previous challenges by other Royal Bank staff members. Both of them won the challenge, as well.
Duane Hicks of the Fort Frances Times, the 2003 “Celebrity Challenge” winner, was on hand to present Carlson with the trophy.
He also encouraged those on hand to give the challenge a try next time if they had not yet done so.
Nurse Cindy Gauthier and dietitian Trisha Woods of the VDEC recognized all 12 participants for their efforts with a certificate and a rose.
The others were Wanda Barker (Super 8), Sandy Hill (F.F. Lions Club), Josie Miller (Northern Lights Credit Union), Melanie Bragg (Family and Children’s Services), Alisa Armstrong (Royal Bank of Canada), Melanie Béchard (F.F. Times), Allan Dearing (B•93 FM), Dave McBride (Safeway), Don Patrick (Gagne Pharmacy), Randy Thoms (Shaw Cable), and Jim Martindale (Voyageur Lions Club).
Following the dinner and presentations, guest speaker Dave Spears of Rossport, Ont. talked about his experiences with diabetes since he was diagnosed in 1986.
Spears said he likely had the disease for some time before he was diagnosed. He simply didn’t recognize the symptoms, including extreme thirst, painful leg cramps at night, and extreme fatigue.
The disease also had a profound effect on his work as a train engineer. He only was allowed to work in a limited capacity—out of fear his condition could trigger a hypoglycemic reaction.
Also at Thursday night’s supper, co-organizer George Bartlett sold draw tickets for some stuffed animals and raised just over $200 for the Canadian Diabetes Association.