From Disneyland to Disney World, one man’s journey to raise awareness for Type 1 Diabetes

ORLANDO, Fla. — When Don Muchow entered the Magic Kingdom Monday afternoon, nothing prepared him for the reception he would receive.

As cast members and guests lined the entrance cheering him on, Muchow completed his yearlong journey from California to Florida in an effort to raise awareness for Type 1 diabetes.

The 59-year-old marketing director from Texas was diagnosed with the disease in his youth.

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At the time, there was no technology like there is today for him to monitor his glucose levels or help manage his diabetes.

As he grew older, a gym teacher told him to avoid exercise to lessen the risk of dangerously low blood sugars.

He followed this advice until a series of health issues forced him to rethink that recommendation.

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“In 2003, I was 42, and 50 pounds overweight, already with serious diabetic complications. By then, I knew that my gym teacher was wrong. I knew that exercise was crucial in helping Type 1 diabetics (T1Ds) stay healthy, control blood sugar and minimize complications,” he said.

It was while getting his health back on track that he decided to use his experience to help inspire others.

Over the years, Muchow has competed in triathlons, ultramarathons, bike rallies and half-marathons, all while managing his disease.

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hat eventually led to his idea to run from California to Florida.

With the help of his wife Leslie, Muchow started his cross-country trek in February of 2020 from California, with the intention of finishing at the Atlantic Ocean.

Along the way, he got the idea to run from one Disney park to another.

So he made the trip up to Disneyland in Anaheim, and over the next year, he traveled nearly 2,800 miles across nine states to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

During his travels, Muchow only paused his journey three times: once for a week after the death of his father and two more times due to COVID-19 concerns.

After arriving to a hero’s welcome at the Magic Kingdom and spending a day at the park hopping on some rides and eating some much-deserved ice cream, Muchow continued on his journey to the coast.

On Wednesday evening, Muchow, along with several other runners, arrived in Melbourne Beach to finish his year-long journey.

On his Facebook page, Muchow thanked his supporters and offered encouragement to others battling diabetes.

“There is always, always a way forward. Past the justified fear of lows and highs. The diagnosis is the beginning, not the end,” he said.

You can read more about Don Muchow and his run across America here.

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Matt Reeser

Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.