FAMU partners with Shriners to fight diabetes

Florida A&M’s football team will take to the gridiron Saturday against the Delaware State University Hornets in the 3rd Annual Diabetes Football Classic, sponsored by the The Prince Hall Shriners Foundation (PHSF). 

The classic is specifically aimed toward battling diabetes, and PHSF is prepared to bring awareness to the disease. The matchup is an effort to fight diabetes in a fun environment. It will be the first year that PHSF has ever held the classic game in Tallahassee. 

Dr. Otis Kirksey, the Health Chairman for the event, is excited about the game and adamant about bringing awareness to diabetes with the game.

“We will have a few social events such as our golf tournament at Southwood, but our main event will be the health fair on Saturday morning,” said Kirksey.

The health fair will be at the College of Pharmacy from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The fair will offer free health screenings and a reception with FAMU alumnae and author Fabiola Gaines, who will be reviewing her book, ‘The New Soul Food Cookbook for People With Diabetes. 

During the Diabetes Classic, there will also be a “Shriners” parade led by the Marching 100, with 30 shrine units in the parade. Other mobilized and walking units will also be showcased.

 “Diabetes particularly impacts Black Americans, so we want to participate in research and aid to fight diabetes,” said Kirksey.

According to the American Diabetes Association, 14.7 percent of Black Americans over age 20 have diabetes.

“We want to change the trend of strokes, heart attacks, and get our number one message out,” Kirksey said. “Diabetes is a preventable disease.”

           The National President of Prince Hall Shriners Foundation, Oliver Washington, is pleased with the strategic location this year.

           “We hope to get more visibility because we’re at a top notch university and raise a new conversation of how diabetes affects the African American community,” said Washington.

           Third-year criminal justice student and football fanatic Terrance Ward, 19, from Jacksonville, feels encouraged about the event.

           “I think it’s good because you get to raise your awareness for diabetes, and get the entertainment from the game at the same time,” said Ward.

           Other students like first year mechanical engineering student Mark-Anthony Williams, 20, from Trinidad and Tobago, thinks the football game is a great tactic to raise awareness. 

           “This event can bring people together as a positive response to a negative plight, helping those with diabetes improve their quality of life,” said Williams.

          At the homecoming game, PHSF will be giving away scholarships to FAMU and DSU students and donate $50,000 to the American Diabetes Association.