Dear Channel 9

Hi. You don’t know me, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t really know you either. My TV tastes run less to the sensationalist and more to the Netflixist, but nonetheless, here I am writing to you.

You see, I want to talk about Drew Harrisberg for a minute.

So, I work for a diabetes organisation and as a diabetes advocate, and one of the best things about my work is that I get to meet people with diabetes from all over the world and from all walks of life.

One of those people is Drew Harrisberg, who I met through some diabetes device events that I have facilitated.

Drew’s on the far left. With the red circle around him.

Drew is an exercise physiologist and a diabetes educator (as well as a singer/songwriter, model and also probably saves kittens from trees/rescues small children from wells/helps grandmothers across the street with their grocery shopping.) Oh – and he happens to have type 1 diabetes.

I can tell you now, Drew and I have very different interests. He’s all about physical activity. I’m all about sitting around drinking coffee and making cookies. But, we both have AWOL beta cells and love dogs, so there’s something in common there!

Just after the latest Abbott DX2 event where we caught up, I was watching TV and there on the screen was Drew’ face. He was on the promotional advertisements for Ninja Warrior.

Okay – full disclosure here: I had to see the ad half a dozen times before I worked out the name of the show and then I had to Google it to work out what the hell it was all about. I’d never heard of Ninja Warrior before. Now I know it’s a reality TV show involving ridiculously athletic and fit people engaging in competitive torture completing obstacle courses. (I know – it’s an absolute fucking miracle I’m not all over this and wanting to be part of the action…)

Anyway, after seeing that Drew was involved, I did get a little interested. While my reality show viewing generally extends to Masterchef (because: Nigella) or Grand Designs (because: Kevin McCloud), I was suddenly keen to know just how Drew would be presented on the show.

Reality TV show producers love a back story. In fact, they’re ALL about the back story. And I figured that Drew’s back story was going to be about the fact that he lives with type 1 diabetes. I could hear the emotive music playing already and see Drew running slow-mo along the beach, his dog beside him, as his voice told the story of his diagnosis and how, despite the obstacles he faced by diabetes, he could still face the obstacle course of Ninja Warrior (and, fuck! I should be writing copy for that show right now; give me a job).

I do love a little bit of diabetes awareness on mainstream TV. If there is an opportunity to bust some myths and smash some stigma, I’m all over it, and I figured that Drew’s appearance on the show could do that. Plus, I’ve been told that kids LOVE this show, and I thought it would be great for kids with diabetes to see Drew not letting diabetes be a barrier to him being his very-best-obstacle-course-beating self.

So, I was resigned to watching the show when it starts (soon, apparently) and cheering on my mate from the comfort of my sofa (while drinking coffee and eating the cookies that I choose to bake in lieu of doing any exercise). I figured that the diabetes community here in Australia would really get behind him, hoping that he would not have to deal with any pesky hypos just as he was…well…doing whatever one does on an obstacle course.

Except, then I noticed that he was no longer in the advertisements. Where Drew’s face had once been, I suddenly saw the perfect smile of someone else (someone, I assume, with a functioning pancreas). I checked the website and he was nowhere to be seen. It appears that Drew has completely disappeared from all Ninja Warrior promotional materials. (Wait! Is this the ninja part of the show? I still don’t really understand it…???)

Although I may be a tiny bit pleased that I don’t need to commit to a three month reality show, I am so disappointed that having someone with type 1 diabetes on prime time TV has been lost.

So, Channel 9 – any chance you can share what’s going on? What have you done with Drew? Why has he disappeared? Why have you completely forsaken this awesome opportunity to showcase someone on your show who is living with a serious and seriously challenging health condition?

Looking forward to learning the full story…

Best,

Renza

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