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Defeat Diabetes
Foundation
150 153rd Ave,
Suite 300

Madeira Beach, FL 33708
  

Floridian Circles the U.S. to Raise Awareness for Diabetes Research

By Robert Burns, rburns@nsb-observer.com

Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2008

NEW SMYRNA BEACH — His large athletic shoes churned down North Dixie Freeway this past week. Mile after mile of American roadway has slipped away under the long-distance tread of Andy Mandell, a man on a mission.
 
“When people see me walking, I want them to think, ‘there goes Mr. Diabetes,’” said Mr. Mandell. “Back in 2000, I just started walking north from my Southwest Florida home, by the time I stopped, I had ended up just outside Pensacola. I had walked about 400 miles,” said the Executive Director of the Defeat Diabetes Foundation.
 
That was just a warm-up for what was to come. In the late 1980s, doctors had diagnosed the then-40-something martial arts expert with Type 2 Diabetes. At first, Mr. Mandell said he didn’t do much about it, making an half-hearted attempt to regulate his food intake. Things got worse.
 
When the determined Boston native attempted to find out more about the disease robbing him of strength, he found little help. He spent two years struggling to survive. He said a friend finally helped him straighten out his life through regular doctor’s visits and insulin.
 
“There are more than 21,000,000 people in the United States with Type 2 Diabetes, and the sad part is, it’s completely preventable,” said Mr. Mandell. That’s why he’s walking.
 
So far, he’s strolled more than 9,300 miles. Starting out in the Tampa region, Mr. Mandell walked across the southern tier of states. When he got to San Diego, he turned right, up the California coast.
 
At the Pacific Northwest, the walking man turned right once again, crossed the Rockies and the high plains. He eventually made it to Maine where he turned south and headed back to Florida. One very big circuit.
 
“I want to draw attention to this disease. In a sense, give it a face.” He said muscular dystrophy has Jerry Lewis, Parkinson’s has Michael J. Fox. Mr. Mandell said he believes diabetes needs an identifiable spokeperson, before it will garner the attention it deserves.
 
“The way the stats are now, within the next few decades there will be more than 50,000,000 people in the U.S. with diabetes. That’s just too many — when it can be prevented.”
 
Before Mr. Mandell moved on to points south, New Smyrna Beach Mayor Sally Mackay presented the health advocate a proclamation declaring May 20 “Diabetes Awareness Day” in New Smyrna Beach. “I think Andy’s doing a fantastic job,” said Mayor Mackay. “With this disease reaching epidemic proportions, I wish everyone in our town would go to the Defeat Diabetes Foundation Web site, www.defeatdiabetes.org and simply stay healthy.” Mr. Mandell said there is much left to do.
 
“There was a time when this disease nearly had me licked,’ said Mr. Mandell. “But I want everyone to know that with limited exercise, the proper diet and proper medical monitoring, they too can live a near normal life with this disease.”

Source: New Smyrna Beach Observer

 
 
 
 
 
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