I make it a point not to publicly advocate for a lot of fundraising efforts–even on my own behalf–but the Spare a Rose campaign is worth an exception. I believe that it’s really important to empower people with diabetes and show a proactive approach to this condition–and more importantly, to show that we have a choice in the way we approach its daily challenges–because many of us do. The elephant in the room is the obvious fact that not everyone enjoys that type of access to care and medicine.

I’m not even talking about those of us who have to struggle to get enough strips each month or can’t get insurance to cover a CGM. Many people with diabetes in other countries go without the basic tools for diabetes management in place–insulin for starters. If you can’t get insulin, all the talk of diets and exercise–basal rates and CGMs are 100% meaningless. This is a post about disparity in diabetes care and a stop-gap measure that is helping those in need.

I often times feel helpless because of the fact that these disparities exist. I believe that part of the reason they exist is because it’s a lot easier to garner public support for advancing new technologies available to those with resources than it is to get people excited about getting everyone up to the most basic levels of care before pushing forward with new advancements. As a climbing and canyoneering guide I always adhered to the idea of letting the slowest in the group set the pace because it would always provide a better and safer outcome to move steadily as a group than having a fast leader and then stopping to wait for the end of the line to catch up.

The problem is that the front of our group doesn’t stop and the back of the group never catches up. I realize that this is a very complex issue and I’m not writing this to blame or call anyone out–but just to share my opinion and maybe start a conversation. Many people may not be aware of this problem and others may not be aware of initiatives like Spare a Rose which are working to help bring care and supplies to those who don’t have them.

international diabetes federation spare a rose life for a child campaign

The concept is pretty simple–donate the cost of a rose to this initiative and help people who don’t have access to insulin and strips.

I love climbing and I love being able to fine-tune my blood sugar through diet and exercise. I love being able to help other people find freedom from the oppressive burden of diabetes. I wish I could do more to help change the system that creates huge profits for corporations and hangs helpless people out to dry. It’s important to do what we can when we see the opportunity. This is simple, it’s effective and it’s right here and now.

I’d gladly live in a world where we put new innovation on hold for a decade in order to get everyone operating on the same level of access to care and medication. I don’t get weak in the knees when I hear about the new cure option that is “within sight” any more than I do over the possibility of a colony on the Moon or Mars. It’s great conceptually, but will any of those benefits reach the people who really need it: the people who get to check blood sugar once a week–if that–and waste away in the meantime because they can’t afford to buy insulin.

Research is important–but it struggles to exist in a vacuum safe from the ill-conceived and predatory business practices of the current industry. I’ll get excited about the next big innovation when profitability relies on increasing access across the board, rather than gouging those who have resources and effectively saying ‘f*&k off if you’re not rich’.

I didn’t intend for this to become a rant, but these sincerely are the reasons why the Spare a Rose  initiative is impactful to me. Agree or disagree, feel free to pile on in the comments below. I think more examination of tough issues in candid terms can help change the system.

Our first meetup will be March 4-6 in Joshua Tree National Park CA. No cost, no frills. Just action…maybe just a few tasteful hashtags though. RSVP via email: steve@livingvertical.org