24th Annual Diabetes Walk raises money and awareness

The 24th Annual Diabetes Walk, hosted by the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi, will be at the Columbus Riverwalk this Saturday. This event welcomes Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes patients along with supportive family, friends and members of the community.

Registration begins at 1 p.m., with the walk beginning at 2 p.m. The family fun run is a mile long, with the option of a 5k walk/run. There is a suggested donation of $20-25 per person attending the event. Following the event, there will be a free picnic lunch provided for all participants. Awards for best t-shirts worn will also be given out to family and corporate teams.

Julia Concolino, a Mississippi State University student and fitness assistant at the Sanderson Center, said she is a strong believer in health and wellness, and will attend the walk with her friend with diabetes to support the diabetic community in Mississippi.

"I am excited to hear about an event not only promoting healthy lifestyle and exercise, but also an event that spreads awareness on diabetes and diabetes care," Concolino said.

The Diabetes Foundation exists to help educate, inform and promote healthy diabetic lifestyles. The Diabetes Walk is an event promoting their mission, and helps communities across Mississippi learn about diabetes care and management.

Irena McClain, the associate director of the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi, said the foundation runs strictly off of donations, and this event is a main fundraising contributor for Mississippi.

"All the money we raise stays in Mississippi, and goes anywhere from an elderly woman needing insulin, to diabetes education in school, to even scholarships for the diabetes camp," McClain said.

Diabetes education is not widely spread in Mississippi so the foundation goes to schools across the state, providing them with DVDs teaching faculty on diabetes management, meters for the school nurse offices, snacks to help low blood sugar and much more. The foundation also provides training for those with relatives who are living with diabetes.

"Education is key and vital for the wellness of the diabetes patients," said McClain. "If the child with diabetes sees that there are other people like them, and they are not the only one they are more likely to take care of their health, which is what we are trying to promote."

The Diabetes Walk is also a main fundraiser for Camp Kandu, a kids' camp promoting diabetes education and a normal camp experience for children with diabetes.

"While the campers enjoy typical camp activities, the parents are in extensive educational classes learning how to manage their child’s diabetes," McClain said.

Claire Mcnatt, an MSU junior, was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes her freshman year of high school, and said she is glad organizations and events like this exist.

"I used a meter one day just to see what my blood sugar would be and it was dangerously high, so I told my parents and they called my local physician, and I did not go to the ER because I live in a small town," Mcnatt said. "The next day, I was officially diagnosed and my life has been a whirlwind ever since."

Mcnatt, who has been on multiple insulin pumps and shots due to the busy lifestyle of college, said she is learning how to properly take care of her body.

"When college gets busy, sometimes diabetes gets put on the back burner, which is not healthy, so I am thankful for the diabetes management and educational services to help me manage my health," Mcnatt said. 

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