Milledgeville, GA – January 30, 2008 – Today, in the quiet town of Milledgeville Georgia, Andy Mandell – Mr. Diabetes®, Executive Director of Defeat Diabetes Foundation, completed mile 9,000 of his 10,000+ mile walk of the perimeter of the United States to raise awareness about the disease that nearly took his life.
“I’ve hit milestones in big cities like Seattle, San Diego, and Washington DC but it’s really appropriate that I reach this milestone in a town like Milledgeville. These smaller communities are impacted by diabetes at the same level as bigger cities but have fewer resources to manage the problem. And there is no doubt that local communities will have to take responsibility for tackling this disease and getting their citizenry healthy. It isn’t going to happen on a national level” said Mandell. “The alternative is projected health care costs of over 1 trillion dollars annually to care for the nation’s diabetics. You don’t have to be a math whiz to figure out that this disease can and will bankrupt our healthcare system if we continue on the same path” he continued.
“The key to breaking this disease cycle is awareness, prevention and, when it’s too late for that then, early detection and proper management to avoid the costly complications associated with this disease. All the research dollars being spent looking for a cure simply aren’t going to keep people from getting this disease” said Mandell. “Top diabetes researchers agree with me that a cure is at least 20 years or more out. It’s time to stop trying to convince folks that a cure is just around the corner. IT IS NOT!!! Prevention is the key and it’s all about taking personal responsibility and making lifestyle changes. That’s what the Wake Up and Walk® Tour is all about and why I’ve been out here walking and talking with the average guy- on- the- street, and why its so great to be in Milledgeville” said Mandell.
Obesity and diabetes are inextricably linked. Yet, the necessary lifestyle changes are easier to make than you think; losing even 10 – 15 pounds can make all the difference. Start by cutting out fast food, snack foods and soda. Institute a family dinner hour and add 5-9 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as legumes and whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice or barley to your diet each day.
It’s also important to pursue a more active lifestyle — Mr. Diabetes® recommends walking. “Unless you are severely disabled, walking is something that everyone can do. Start out with a minimum of ten minutes a day and increase the time gradually. In a short time you’ll find you look forward to it. Many families can incorporate a walk before dinner. It’s a great way to catch up with each others’ lives and get healthier at the same time,” says Mandell. “These simple steps can potentially stave off the onset of the disease and will certainly help minimize any of the complications. Of course, before starting any physical fitness program you should always work with your medical team to determine your fitness level,” Mandell concluded.
Mr. Diabetes® follows his own advice and walks ”daily”, checks his blood glucose as many as ten times per day, eats a well balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and has medical oversight. In spite of that, he still suffers from some complications of the disease, including severe neuropathy (loss of feeling in the lower limbs), which requires him to use a walking pole for balance.
“With just a little over a thousand miles left, I’m feeling pretty good. 9,000 miles is a pretty significant accomplishment – especially, by a senior citizen and an insulin-dependent diabetic; and no one can take that away. We’ve still got a bit of ground to cover and the highly populated Florida coast is going to take some time – but if I needed to I could actually go back and see my own dentist! He concluded.
Before THE WALK™ began there wasn’t nearly the focus and awareness about diabetes that exists today. Mandell would like to think that his efforts have had some impact on that. Clearly, THE WALK™ has captured the imagination of the public. Mr. Diabetes® has personally talked with over 60,000 individuals many who’ve shared their personal stories – often with tragic outcomes, but he’s also provided a real human face that shows diabetics are neither helpless nor hopeless.
About the Wake Up and Walk™ Tour
THE WALK™ is a 10,000+ mile epic journey of the perimeter of the United States and is now in its 6th year. Defeat Diabetes Foundation Executive Director, Andrew P. Mandell – Mr. Diabetes®, is the sole walker (guest slots are accepted) — You may have seen him in his brightly colored safety vest and walking pole being followed by an SUV that serves as support. He’s walked through 33 states, crossed 100 major rivers, and walked through 4 time zones (twice!), gone through 20 pairs of walking shoes, and 4 Tour Managers. He has personally met and spoken with over 60,000 individuals one-on-one and been honored with 100 Proclamations by Senators, Congressmen, Governors and Mayors. Through appearances at hospitals, schools and civic organizations, and via media outreach he has reached over 50 million Americans; all to create awareness about an insidious epidemic: diabetes. The Mr. Diabetesâ Wake Up and Walk® Tour will continue through Georgia and Florida before reaching the finish line in Madeira Beach, Florida sometime in December of 2008.
Over 22 million people have the disease, and nearly one-third of all diabetics are undiagnosed. Another 54 million people are “pre-diabetics” who are unaware they are in danger of developing the disease. Diabetes comes with a host of severe complications, including adult blindness, amputations, heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s and a host of other equally devastating problems. Diabetes causes 215,000 deaths annually in the United States alone. More tragic, 95% of the time, Type 2 Diabetes is PREVENTABLE!
About Defeat Diabetes Foundation
Defeat Diabetes Foundation was established in 1990 and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity. Its mission is to inform, educate and alert the general public, diabetics, pre-diabetics and elected officials about the disease, its prevention and the consequences of undiagnosed and/or poorly managed diabetes. The Foundation provides accurate, up-to-date and practical information on the treatment and self-management of the disease, recommends diabetic-friendly products and services on their website and beneficial information through a free monthly online E-Lerts™ newsletter. They support public information programs, including the KIDD Project which has provided 3 million Free Defeat Diabetes® Screening Test brochures to 5000 schools in all 50 states, the DAN Project in memory of Dan Kerner, which has produced Public Service Announcements and, of course, The Mr. Diabetes® Wake Up and Walk® Tour. For information on diabetes, to take the free screening test or obtain additional information visit: www.DefeatDiabetes.org.