Scores Flock to Park for Diabetes Awareness Event

Over 200 of Leon County children of all ages, along with their parents and athletes came to help bring awareness to type-two diabetes, on a sunny Saturday morning at Tom Brown Park.

“I am very excited about the event,” said Executive Director of Leon County Schools Foundation Sheila Costigan. “I’m really excited that this community has come together.”

The Foundation for Leon County Schools, Tallahassee Memorial Health Care and Premier Health and Fitness, worked together to help organize the 2nd annual “Stomp Out Type 2 Diabetes” event.

It was a morning full of entertainment and educational activities that brought awareness to the importance of embracing a healthy lifestyle.

“We are trying to use games and inter-activities to teach children about nutrition, health and prevention,” said Dawn Smith, director of the Tallahassee Diabetes Center. “Events like this are the key to helping prevent diabetes from being the publics’ health problem.”

As of Jan. 26, 2011, there were 25.8 million children and adults in the United States who have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

There are 18.8 million people who are diagnosed; 7.0 million people who are undiagnosed and 79 million people who are considered to be pre-diabetes.

“The real problem is lack of exercise and lack of proper nutrition,” said Len Harvey, executive director of Premier Fitness and Health center. “We are exercising less and we are spending more time behind the computer with e-mails, twitting, and we are eating too much fast food.”

TMH and Premier Fitness and Health center offered ten activities and educational stations, which included a limbo station, heart and vascular station and also a free diabetes screening station.

“This year’s event is bigger,” said Pam Shovlain, programs coordinator at Premier Fitness and Heath Center. “We have more people and a 5k-road race that were doing, and a one-mile fun walk. We also have more participants this year.”

Patrick Cooney, a fourth-year student-athlete on the track and field team, was one of dozens of athletes from Florida A&M that came to have a positive impact on the children of Leon County.

“I came out here last year with the track team; I enjoyed it,” Cooney said. “I love it. I love helping kids, and giving back to the community. I want kids to take from this event that they can be an athlete and a positive role model.”

The football team, the women’s and men’s track and field and cross-country teams, and cheerleading team were all present, as role models for the younger children. Other teams from Tallahassee were also present Saturday morning.

“We participated in Stomp Type 2 Diabetes last year, and the girls really enjoyed it and the sponsors really enjoyed us,” said Darlene Moore, head coach of the women’s track and field and cross-country team. “I want my athletes to be aware of how type-two diabetes affects the young children.”

The biggest thing that could be noticed Saturday morning was the interaction between the kids and athletes.

“What we are trying to do today is to get children out here, and get them involved with the FAMU athletics and other athletes,” said Harvey. “We want children to see what it’s like to be physically fit, and hopefully they well inspire to do that.”

Saturday’s event was just as important for parents and adults, as it was for children.

“It’s particularly important for the adults to understand about type-two diabetes, because they’re the responsible party for the kids,” Smith said. “The parents should understand what the risk factors are and how a good lifestyle and exercising can prevent or delay the diagnosis of diabetes.”

The event went on from 8 a.m. until about 1 p.m. and ended with live music and dancing.