VIP Interview: American Diabetes Association

PHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION

PHOTO COURTESY OF AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION

By MeLinda Schnyder

  If you’ve heard of Tour de Cure in the past but did not sign up to participate because you’re not a cyclist, you might reconsider this year. The American Diabetes Association has added run and walk options to its signature fundraiser event. Whether you’re an avid cyclist, a recreational runner or a family walking with children, there is an option that allows you to get active and help raise money to support the mission of this national nonprofit: to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.
    The Wichita office of the American Diabetes Association is holding its Tour de Cure event on Saturday, April 28. Registration is open and the bike, run and walk routes are being planned. Learn more information at diabetes.org/toursedgwickco. Event day festivities will take place at Aloft-Wichita Northeast and will include a party to celebrate the fundraising accomplishments of the teams and individual participants as well as an opportunity to promote awareness about diabetes and the American Diabetes Association.
    Every year, diabetes kills more American than AIDS and breast cancer combined, said Stephanie Hartung, director of the American Diabetes Association-Wichita office. One in 11 Americans has diabetes and every 23 seconds someone is newly diagnosed with diabetes, a problem with your body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. Diabetes increases your risk for many serious health problems.
     Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have “prediabetes” — blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Research shows that 84.1 million Americans have prediabetes and 9 out of 10 of them don’t know it.
    “Locally our office has partnered with a number of businesses and community programs to help reach individuals to take our Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test,” Hartung said. “The Wichita office strives to help our community become more aware and educated about diabetes and support those who are affected by diabetes.”

VIP: How did the organization get started in Wichita?
SH: American Diabetes Association got its start here in Wichita thanks to Dr. Richard Guthrie, who moved to Wichita in 1973 and was a national board member for American Diabetes Association. He and a group of parents of children with diabetes started Camp Discovery that summer and after a few years American Diabetes Association’s office in Wichita was created.

VIP: What is the structure of the Wichita office?
SH: Wichita is our local office, and we report to the state office in Kansas City. Our office is one of several in the Heartland Region of the overall national American Diabetes Association. Our office consists of myself and Sara Martin, our associate manager of Donor Relations. Our Wichita board of directors is currently 10 members strong and consists of community leaders, business leaders and health professionals. We have very dedicated board and committee members, whom we would not be able to succeed in our mission without. 

VIP: Why is the American Diabetes Association needed in Wichita?
SH: Currently in America we are facing an epidemic: 1 in 11 Americans have diabetes and 1 in 3 have prediabetes. In Sedgwick County, there is a little over 10 percent of our population that has diabetes. We are here to help support those living with diabetes, their family and caregivers through education, research, advocacy and local initiatives for community awareness.

VIP: Can we lower our risk for developing diabetes?
SH: Research shows that you can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by 58 percent by losing 7 percent of your body weight (or 15 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds) and exercising moderately (such as brisk walking) 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

VIP: What support does the organization offer?
SH: American Diabetes Association has year-round engagement on both a local and national level. Starting with November, which is Diabetes Awareness Month, and throughout the year we have three days where there is focus on a specific aspect of diabetes education and awareness. Alert Day is held each March and this is a day where we partner with community partners to encourage everyone to take our Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test. In May, we have Get Fit Don’t Sit Day when we encourage individuals to get up and move every 30 minutes. Even something as simple as getting up from a desk and doing a few stretches makes an impact on healthy living. In September, we have National Healthy Lunch Day, where we encourage individuals to bring or eat a healthy lunch at work.

VIP: Tell us about your local initiatives.
SH: We are most known for our two camps for children with Type 1 diabetes. We have a day camp here in Wichita – Camp Sweet-Betes for children ages 5-8 – and a residential camp held in Junction City – Camp Discovery for children ages 9-15. Both of these camps help children learn how to manage their disease as well as allowing them to just be kids in a safe environment, where parents don’t have to worry.
    In addition to camp we also have several community partnerships to help educate and bring awareness about diabetes. Our Wellness Lives Here program (wellnessliveshere.org) is a corporate program where American Diabetes Association provides year-round opportunities to enable the company to nurture physical fitness, good nutrition, coping skills and regular health care.

VIP: And you partner locally and nationally to bring education and awareness to our community?
SH: We partner with Walmart on a national level to bring education and the risk test to the community on Walmart Wellness Days, the next of which is in April. American Diabetes Association locally also has a partnership with Dillons. We hold Dillons Diabetes Nights once a month at different locations, where we have a food demonstration complete with a recipe card to take home and a Diabetes Educator there to cover a topic related to diabetes care and management.

VIP: Anything else that you would want readers to know about your organization?
SH: Another program to highlight is our Living with Type 2 Diabetes program. It is a free 12-month program in which those who sign up can receive free informational resources though email or U.S. mail about living well with diabetes. They will also receive six free issues of Diabetes Forecast magazine.

VIP: How is ADA-Wichita funded?
SH: Our association’s work is funded through funds raised through special events, major gifts, community grants and other fundraising mechanisms. Our signature fundraising event is Tour de Cure in April.

VIP: How can we support your organization?
SH: You can support the American Diabetes Association by volunteering or by participating in Tour de Cure or one of the camps. Another simple way to get involved is taking the risk test or participating in one of our Wellness Days throughout the year. Visit diabetes.org.