An Arlington, Washington man has started a 6,000 mile trek on his 1956 John Deere tractor in the hopes of raising awareness for juvenile onset diabetes.
Jeff Newell, 56, who has lived with and been treated for juvenile onset diabetes since the age of 11, left July 11 for Prudhoe Bay, Alaska on a tractor he spent the last eight months restoring.
“Diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life,” Newell said on his GoFundMe page for the cause.
He plans to raise $500,000 for the American Diabetes Association to support diabetes research.
Newell believes it will take three to four weeks to get to Prudhoe Bay, averaging 200 miles per day, if all goes well. The journey is unsupported, other than his travel partner, Ron Wachholtz, who will be making the trip with his own Ford tractor.
His journey will take him over the North Cascades Highway to Oroville in Eastern Washington, then across the Canadian border through Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon along Trans-Canada Highway 1. In Dawson Creek, the route will pick up again on Highway 2 through the Yukon before arriving in Fairbanks. From there, the tractors will join the Dalton Highway for a final leg across the tundra north to Prudhoe Bay. The duo will then head back south again to return to Arlington.
About 1.25 million children and adults in the U.S. have Type 1 diabetes, representing about 5 percent of the population, according to the American Diabetes Association. It was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2015.