MR. DIABETES® WAKE UP AND WALK® TOUR
UPDATE : May, 2008
LOCATION: Micco, Florida
TOTAL MILES: 9502.4
The MR. DIABETES® Walk Watch™ has begun!! There are ONLY 650+/- miles to go to reach the finish in Madeira Beach, FL. Madeira Beach is a small barrier island off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico, just outside of St. Petersburg. Madeira Beach is where THE WALK™ began, December 1, 2000 with a 450 mile “Trial Walk” through Florida and right up to Pensacola (E. Milton), at the Alabama state line.
Along with current Tour Managers, Shirley & Russ Barriger, I have reached the east coast of Florida. While walking here I have had the opportunity to connect with early Tour Managers Joe Alton and Bob Brooks – this is home for them. Steve Hopf, Tour Manager #3, is also brought to mind, as I am put into a retrospective on how fortunate I have been to be guided around America in their capable hands.
I am taking this UPDATE to acknowledge the extraordinary assistance I have received from my Tour Managers – the ones who have taken on an unusual and extremely difficult task of keeping me safe, healthy and, in so many ways, entertained & SANE during this most fantastic and epic journey. They are all an integral part of THE WALK™ and each has stories that will make you laugh, cry, muse and think. They are all honorable, hard working, disciplined and dedicated people who have been tested under fire in some most unusual ways – truly people of character. “True character is how one behaves when no one is watching.” Their character(s) is exemplary!!
During the “Trial Walk” I was assisted by Tour Manager # I – an old and dear friend, Joe Alton – formerly of New Hampshire and Maine. But, by the time of THE WALK™, Joe had moved to Melbourne, Florida, 160 miles directly east of Madeira Beach and on the east coast of Florida. Unfortunately, Joe had to leave THE WALK™ because of serious health issues, which required a number of life-saving surgeries. (It is now 2008 and Joe continues to face surgeries – a testimonial to the human spirit.)
After processing the information learned during the “Trial Walk”, the effort resumed several months later on January 15,2002. This time I had engaged the services of Tour Manager # 2 – Bob Brooks. Bob is from Mims, Florida after growing up in Ossipee, New Hampshire. Mims is about 40 miles north of Melbourne. Joe and Bob were/are friends. So, you can see the connection…..
Bob brought an interesting “feature” to THE WALK™ - he is a successful kidney transplant recipient (from his sister). And, because diabetes is a leading cause of kidney disease, Bob brought a lot to the table (Bob is not diabetic.) Bob was with me for 3900+ miles.
After Bob was Tour Manager # 3, Steve Hopf. I met Steve during a winter layover in Las Vegas, Nevada. Interestingly, Steve is originally from Westford, Massachusettes – another New Englander. Steve got me safely across most of the northern tier – into upstate New York, before moving on. Two years later, Steve showed up in the Mayor of Nashua New Hampshire’s office, when I was receiving a Proclamation.
And, now, of course, since April, 2006 I have enjoyed the “down home” company of Tour Manager(s) # 4, Shirley & Russ Barriger. The Barrigers are from Michigan and are committed to finishing THE WALK™ with me. These folks bring much to the table, too. To begin, they are the parents of 5 children (now grown) and the grandparents of 8. They just celebrated their 42nd anniversary and they are as much in “like” with each other as they are in “love”.
Interestingly, one of their sons had diabetes as a child, Type I. Adam is now 29 years old and has a family of his own. Shirley & Russ, because of their care and upbringing of Adam, now use that experience as they help guide others, who we meet daily, deal with the complex issues faced by Type I diabetics and their caregivers (mostly family). The care and concern they show to the people seeking their advice is a heartwarming experience to witness. They are so appreciated. I am more than delighted at this because I am an insulin-dependent Type II diabetic, learning about my diabetes at age 40; I can only offer VERY limited input to the Type I experience.
Additionally, Russ & Shirley are organic farmers. Organic farming is relatively new in the world of farming. Russ was the first in his immediate region to introduce this form of farming – a very courageous and forward thinking decision at the time. Shirley takes her knowledge of farming to the pages of our E-Lerts™ newsletter every month – Shirley’s Garden. Her article is always read #1, #2 or #3 of all the fantastic articles offered in E-Lerts™. And, no, I’m not going to tell you which of the other articles top the list – you can figure that out for yourself.
Other aspects of the job (tasks performed by all Tour Managers) include maintenance of the vehicles, planning the route I walk, dealing with the media, plus, plus.
Tour Managers, all, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Florida is getting hotter and more humid every day. Is it better than suffering through the perils and discomforts of northern winters? From my perspective – YOU BET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The walking conditions are still a bit on the risky side, as I’m walking on shoulders and on soft shoulders most of the time – along Route 1 south. But, Russ is always with me and adds a layer of safety I can’t do without.
I have met with a number of Mayors and been honored with many Proclamations. It doesn’t get old and I am so appreciative of the collaborative efforts we have established to “defeat diabetes®” in their respective communities.
As I continue to walk south to Port St Lucie, Stuart, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and Key West before walking back up the Gulf coast to Madeira Beach, I look forward to connecting with some of my oldest and dearest friends.
I am thrilled that the media continues to see value in THE WALK™, and am enjoying more national (and international) attention: CNN world-wide radio, MSNBC interviews, Diabetes Positive (the Cover), Health.com, and more………
Events are being planned to acknowledge THE WALK™ and Defeat Diabetes Foundation for sponsoring it. Stay tuned for more information on the “where & when”.
Meanwhile, the past seven years are available for viewing at our offices in Madeira Beach. To arrange for an appointment to view: www.DefeatDiabetes.org
Then, click on the Tab: “CONTACT US
OR, e-mail me and I will co-ordinate a time for you: MrDiabetes@DefeatDiabetes.org
This UPDATE focused on my Tour Managers. But, don’t ignore our many valuable programs: E-Lerts™ newsletter; Defeat Diabetes® News Service; MADDCAP™, DefeatDiabetes® CareGiverHelper; Acsia Insurance; B-CLEAR energy drink; and several others, which can be found on the side rails of our over 3000 pages on this website. And, we will soon be adding other products & services helpful to diabetics and those interested in achieving and/or maintaining their good health.
If you are interested in a sponsorship and/or advertising on our website: www.DefeatDiabetes.org and click on Products & Services to learn our policy(ies).
And, now that I have effectively walked the perimeter of the United States (I’m now walking in the 34th and final state – 9500+ miles), you must realize how serious I am about “defeating diabetes®”. A lot has been accomplished and a lot more has been learned about the REAL state of affairs of diabetes and how it dramatically affects each and every one of us. Defeat Diabetes Foundation is uniquely positioned to take this information and actually impact diabetes in new
and innovative ways. We NEED your continuing support in order to keep this
momentum going. So, please dig deep and make your next tax deductible donation to: Defeat Diabetes Foundation.
When you designate a program for your support 100% of that donation (less bank processing fees if you use a Major Credit Card) will go to that program. Defeat Diabetes Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity, which allows for your donation to be tax deductible. Donate to Defeat Diabetes Foundation with our GroundSpring.com secure online donation form. You may donate to any of our programs with either VISA, MASTER CARD or AMERICAN EXPRESS.
Remember, What’s worse than finding out you have diabetes? …….. NOT finding out!!!!
To reach me personally with your questions and comments: