Fifteen years have passed since Matt Ralston’s T1D diagnosis, and he’s a far cry from the year 5 student who was pulled up for going to the bathroom as many as 12 times a day.
“My teacher asked to see my parents because he thought I was just trying to get out of class.” Matt laughs.
“Later that day my mum’s friend, a nurse, noticed I was very pale and got her to take me to the doctor. The doctor sent me to the emergency room where I stayed for 5 days - and the rest is history.”
Now, Matt is passionate about highlighting the fact that people living with T1D can go on to live normal lives (even though it takes a fair bit of effort) and have extraordinary, athletic careers – rather than focusing on the negatives.
At 24 years old, he’s tackled more than his fair share of challenges, from the rush of adrenaline while playing competitive sport, to maintaining BGL consistency while doing
“Whenever I feel sick or even a little bit off, my first assumption is that it must have something to do with T1D, and normally I’m right! It affects every aspect of life, and it’s something that’s constantly there.” Matt explains.
“Even simple things which others take for granted like playing footy or being able to wake up for an early shift become more complicated when you look at them through a lens of managing your BGLs. T1D is unpredictable and makes everyday experiences that little bit harder - but that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve great things, too!”
Matt sees technology as the way forward to dramatically improve the lives of people living with T1D - he even built a closed loop system before they were commercially available for purchase! He also actively supports research toward new technologies through his family’s involvement in One Walk.
The Ralstons have raised over $26,000 to support Aussie researchers who are creating breakthroughs in how to cure, treat and prevent T1D since they first signed up in 2009. They’re best known for their “Matt’s Mates” t-shirts, a unique spin on the Blue Army uniform!
After printing off a few hundred t-shirts in Bali while on holiday, the t-shirts were sold to members of their team for $20-30. But, the fundraising is only part of the appeal for Matt and his family.
“One Walk brings me such a sense of connectivity with the wider T1D community, and it’s a great opportunity to meet and interact with lots of different people every year and share your experiences.” Matt says.
“I have a lot of fond memories from when I was young, of jumping up on the stage and singing, which is still great to see the younger kids doing now - they put on such a show for everyone. I can’t wait to see how people take on the challenge this year to not only conquer 120,000 steps, but connect virtually as well.”
You can donate to Matt’s Mates as they go virtual for the One Walk Step Challenge here, or create your own legacy by registering your own team for 2020. Will you help us defeat T1D?