Did you know one of out nine Arizonans is affected by diabetes and one out of three children born after the year 2000, have been affected in some way.
According to the latest Arizona Diabetes Burden Report in 2011, there has been an 80% increase from 1995-2010 with people diagnosed with diabetes and due to those that go undetected it is reasonable to conclude there are more than 600,000 people living with diabetes here in our state. Chances are very high that you or someone you know is managing diabetes right now. (Source)
There is a steadfast national organization called the American Diabetes Association ("ADA"). The ADA local chapters in Arizona. These are dedicated to "...prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes." (Source) The ADA does this through funding research, providing services to communities, providing objective and credible information, and providing a voice for those living with diabetes that have been denied their rights.
Don Bristow, current Oro Valley Councilmember candidate, and his wife Diane, have long been volunteers for the ADA Southern Arizona Chapter for a number of years. Diane has "lived as an insulin-dependent diabetic for 51+ years."
Their intentions have always been to provide inspiration and hope for those living with diabetes and encourage them to know that it is possible to "celebrate 25, 50, 75 years or more of a life well-lived with diabetes."
Along with volunteering, they are both co-Chairs for the Rest Stops at the nationally held annual event, ADA Tour de Cure. The Tour de Cure is a 10k, 50k and 100k bike ride held each March. Its purpose is to "raise money and awareness for diabetes; provide community-based education programs; protect the rights of those with diabetes and fund research for a cure. This is one of two major fund-raising events for the Diabetic Association."
Diabetes is an extraordinary challenge for Southern Arizona's Tohono O'Odham Nation. It is so significant that the Nation, itself, identifies it as an epidemic. "The Diabetes Epidemic: Until the 1960’s, no tribal member had ever suffered from type-2 (adult onset) diabetes. Today, more than 50% of all Tohono O’odham adults have the disease, the highest rate in the world." (Source)
"Many cultures that have lived in the Southwest deserts carry a gene that appears to help them adapt to cycles of food availability and scarcity that regularly occur in this environment," observers an exhibit at Boston's Museum of Science. This gene is common among the Tohono O'Odham people.
"People who carry this "feast or famine gene" generally have a lower metabolic rate." Abundance of food, as in today's times, can lead to excessive weight gain. Excessive weight is a major contributor to diabetes.
The ADA Southern Arizona chapter also helps advocate on federal, state, and local levels for the rights of individuals with diabetes and for setting the standards for care in hospitals and clinics. Some of their local events and programs consist of: Camp AZDA, family connection and support groups, quarterly "fun activities" designed to engage and educate children with diabetes and their families, and health fairs.
As always Oro Valley, there is room for you to get involved. Think about volunteering your time or resources to this cause. Chances are it is an organization that hits home closer than we'd like to appreciate.
Heather Nenadovich has lived in Oro Valley a total of five years. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arizona. Her husband is Canadian so she is a hockey fan by default and so are her two very clever children. When not being a mommy, she enjoys hiking in Catalina State Park, hand building pottery, and gardening. Her favorite things about living in Oro Valley are the towns recognition of art and culture, their commitment to preserving nature and the Christmas parade. (Also anything from GMG Chinese Bistro.)