MR. DIABETES® WAKE UP AND WALK® TOUR
UPDATE ELERTS™ MARCH, 2007
LOCATION: Portsmouth, Virginia TOTAL MILES WALKED: 8210.5
A lot has happened in the past month, as I have walked from Sandston (just outside of Richmond) to Portsmouth. So, I’m still in Virginia and enjoying this most historic Commonwealth – 400 years old this year!!!! Virginia is designated as a Commonwealth – not a State. [By the way, there are four (4) Commonwealths in the United States and forty-six (46) States. Can you name the other three(3) Commonwealths?]
[ANSWER: Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Kentucky]
Much of this past month I was camped in historic Williamsburg, a settlement colonized in the early 1600’s and a well established community before the American Revolution of 1776. A historic community is preserved here. It is characteristically preserved with a staff of guides replete with costumes, equipment/tools and speech of the time(s). Most authentic. It was a project of John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil fame of America’s Industrial Revolution of the mid to late 1800’s.
That said, Virginia is one HUGE history lesson! Coming from Boston, MA I already have an affinity for American History. So, this walking through 400 years of history just doesn’t get old (no pun intended – sure Andy!!). On top of that, I am accompanied by Tour Manager Russ Barriger who, himself, is a walking encyclopedia of American History. His ancestry can be traced back to relatives who fought in our War.for Independence. Plus, because of his and Shirley’s (also, Tour Manager and author of Shirley’s Garden in E-Lerts™) background of being multi-generational farmers from the “Thumb of Michigan” and specifically, Organic farmers since the mid 1990’s – I get a new perspective of historic and current farm and country living, as we venture through these farming communities. And Virginia is definitely that.
Rough walking conditions remain the norm. One incident, in particular, that caused me to hit the ground occurred on February 27, as I walked from Quinton to Providence Forge. This was only the second time I fell to the ground while out on THE WALK™. The other time was when walking in Upstate New York approaching Hamburg. (see UPDATE – August 2005).
Here is what happened in this instance: When on the open road I prefer to walk in the same direction as traffic. Then, Russ/Shirley will follow behind in the VERY visible support vehicle, for safety reasons. But, when there is not a wide shoulder or breakdown lane for them on which to follow me, I walk on the pavement of the roadway facing traffic – again, for safety reasons. And, as traffic approaches, I will step off the pavement and onto whatever available space there is until that traffic goes by. In this particular case, as I stepped off the pavement to avoid oncoming traffic, when I stepped down with my left foot the ground gave way and a hole opened up and my left leg went into this hole almost up to my knee. I went down!!! – away from the roadway. WHEW!!! Something like this has never happened before in the over 17 million steps I have taken, so far, on THE WALK™. But, it could just as easily have happened if I were in the process of stepping back onto the pavement and it would have been my right foot that stepped into the “hole”. Had that been the case I would have fallen into the roadway - HHHHMMMMmmmmmmm….. Obviously, I was lucky. I had absolutely no control of this situation. But, I have learned to be cautious and ever vigilant, thereby avoiding innumerable “situations” that might otherwise occur. When things happen, they happen fast!! And I credit my flexibility training in the Martial Arts as the reason I didn’t twist something, thus avoiding injury. Yep, I still do my stretching exercises every day!!!!
Next day, as I walked toward Lenexa, I was interviewed by Amy Martin of the Tidewater Review. This was arranged by Russ. He does a very effective outreach campaign, as I walk into communities. He and Shirley, each, wear a number of hats as Tour Managers; one education you can’t get at any Ivy League school!!!
Meanwhile, Russ found a very small leak in the radiator. This was a result of my having hit the deer on January 6. So, back to the shop. Once again, I had the pleasure to work with Jennifer Gery of Crawford and Company (appraisals). Thanks, again, Jennifer for making the process pleasant. But that little thing, although critical, caused more down time from walking. But, it’s part of the gig.
A radio interview in Williamsburg at WMBG – AM (740) with John Maguola took place on March 2. John was a great Host – lots of fun.
March 6 - I met with and received a Proclamation from Hampton Mayor Ross A. Kearney II. Great Mayor. Beautiful city. And, incidentally, diabetes affects his family. Hampton was founded on July 9, 1610. This Mayor presides over the second oldest city in the United States. Can you name the first settlement and in what year it was settled?
[ANSWER: Jamestown, VA – 1607).
March 8 - I was honored once again. I met Williamsburg Mayor Jeanne Zeidler. Mayor Zeidler took time from a regularly scheduled City Council meeting and presented me with a Proclamation. As with all city officials when I meet with them, we discuss diabetes and other health issues facing their community(ies). I will present them with a 33 page White Paper, which addresses the various and most common problems facing communities and solutions to meet them. For example, it addresses safety issues as might affect Parks and Recreation areas, nutrition concerns in schools and the community at large, and more………….
March 12 – I interviewed with Dave Bowman, photojournalist, of the Daily Press. This is the paper to be in!! The reaction from the public in the days following the printing of the picture and article, was FANTASTIC!!! I would be out walking for five and six hours on successive days and only covered 15.4 miles. Shirley walked with me on those days and filmed much of the stop-and-talk with people. That’s what THE WALK™ is all about.
That night I spoke at a Kiwanis Club meeting in West Point, VA. I was invited to speak by Andy Conklin, who had read about me in the Tidewater Review. And, another first………………….
Kiwanis Clubs have a fun tradition called the 50-50. Members buy “raffle” tickets for $1.00 at the start of their meeting. Andy bought tickets for me, Shirley and Russ. Those tickets are then placed into a hat for a later drawing. During the meeting, when that time came, President David Roark offered me the hat to pick the winning ticket. The winner splits the kitty with the Club. Well, guess who’s ticket I picked? NO, not mine!! But, I did pick Shirley’s. Sounds like the ‘fix’ was in, but, it wasn’t – OR was it???????
On the Ides of March (March 15) we moved to Suffolk, VA. Suffolk is just 16 miles north of North Carolina. I won’t be crossing the State Line here, but that’s how close I am.
March 19 – I met with Dr. James W. Holley III – Mayor of Portsmouth. We met at the area’s leading diabetes center for both research and treatment – The Leonard R.Sterlitz Diabetes Institutes & Center for Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders in Norfolk. This wonderful facility is affiliated with the Eastern Virginia Medical School. And while here, I met briefly with Etta J. Vinik, M.A. (Ed), Associate Director of Education.
At this time, I interviewed with WAVY-TV Ch 10 (ABC) & WVBT-TV Ch 43 (Fox). News Photographer Rob Rizzo. The interview aired that night and I heard great reviews the next day as I walked. Gotta love it!!!!
March 22 – I met with Norfolk Mayor James D. Fraim. We talked about diabetes in his community and how it has affected his life, personally. Yes, he’s a diabetic. And we finished our meeting with him presenting me with a Proclamation.
March 23 began with a 7:30am radio interview Tony Macrini, Host of Macrini’s Morning News. This is the radio show to be interviewed on to make an impact in the 7 cities, as this area of Virginia is called. Good work, Russ!!
Later in the day I met with Mayor Joe Frank of Newport News. Also a great Host and a diabetic. He, too, presented me with a Proclamation.
Well, five Mayoral meetings and Proclamations don’t happen by themselves. To this end I offer special praise to our Defeat Diabetes Foundation Public Outreach Director, Dawn Swidorski. This is a very important part of THE WALK™ because it bridges the gap that can exist between the highest elected official of a community and the community itself.
In between the interviews and meetings I’m out into the community making a lot of noise. While out here, Russ & Shirley Barriger, my Tour Managers, are also making a lot of noise. And, I am truly grateful for the uniformly wonderful response from all the people we meet.
When I meet with a Mayor (or other official) it is as an advocate for all the diabetics in that community. As I walk through each and every community, I am constantly checking out the conditions of the roadways, homes, schools, parks & recreation areas, medical facilities, etc. And I talk one-on-one with people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about that particular community. So, when I meet with the public official(s) I make a point of discussing areas of concern and, then, hand them the White Paper that will address those concerns.
Now, meet some of the folks I met during this past month……………..