Fighting Diabetes: One step at a time

Nearly 1,500 people of all ages gathered at the University of South Florida this Saturday, Nov. 14, to stride forward together in the American Diabetes Association’s StepOut to Fight Diabetes Walk. The ADA’s signature fundraising walk, coinciding with National Diabetes Day, was held at more than 150 sites across the country.

Hosting the walk was a chance for USF to showcase its bold initiative to fight diabetes on every front – from education and research to family-centered care. The University is planning a new center for people with diabetes – an inviting place that will be a hub for the diabetes community and where patients can practice the healthy eating habits and exercise so vital to diabetes.

The USF community was an integral part of the event. Teams from across the university walked to raise funds that will support critical research, provide community-based education programs and protect the rights of people with diabetes – a chronic disease expected to confront one in three U.S. children if current trends continue.

“It was a great opportunity for us to show the Tampa Bay community our commitment and forward momentum in the fight against diabetes,” said Nicole Johnson, Miss America 1999 and director of communications and education for the USF Diabetes Center. “We were honored to partner with the ADA and play a role in fundraising for better treatment and an ultimate cure for diabetes.”

Johnson worked with the ADA to coordinate the walk, emceed the event, and led post-walk tours of the center’s new educational space. USF Health student volunteers helped conduct health screenings. Staff and faculty volunteered at booths for heart health education, stroke awareness and podiatry screening.

Adults and children had the opportunity to be screened for the TrialNet studies, which seeks to identify those with early signs of Type 1 diabetes to investigate new therapies that may halt or slow disease progression. The NIH-sponsored worldwide network of clinical studies is coordinated at USF by Jeffrey Krischer, PhD, professor and chief of epidemiology in the Department of Pediatrics.

See photo gallery of the day’s activates below:

Dr. Stephen Klasko, USF medical school dean and CEO of USF Health, gives a pep talk before the walk.

Nicole Johnson, director of communications and education for the USF Diabetes Center, greets walkers.

A zumba troupe warms up the crowd.

Walkers assemble at the starting line.

The route started and finished at USF Simmons Park near the Psychology/Communication Building.

Cara Capitena, a first-year USF medical student, checks Diana Persaud’s blood pressure.

Nicole Johnson, with daugher Ava, helped lead post-walk tours showing off the USF Diabetes Center’s new education space.

Johnson welcomes a group of young walkers to one of the Diabetes Center’s child-friendly areas.

– Story by Anne DeLotto Baier, Photos by Eric Younghans; USF Health Communicatons