(BPT) - This year, co-workers, families and friends across the country are making every step count in the fight against diabetes. Your steps can count too.
Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes(R), the American Diabetes Association's signature fundraising walk, has been taking place for more than 20 years. Participants walk as individuals or as a team that can come in sizes of two or more. The many faces of Step Out all contribute to a community committed to doing their part to prevent and cure diabetes once and for all, including Red Striders, walkers living with type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes. They are a reminder of why we walk.
One particular Red Strider walking this year is Heather Berg, the Association's 2013 National Youth Advocate diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 10. Her earliest experience with the disease, however, came a year and a half earlier when her younger brother was diagnosed with diabetes at only 14 months old. While she and her brother were very young when they were first diagnosed, the fight to Stop Diabetes was more than a movement to Heather and her family - it was a mission.
'I've been part of the Association's teen advocacy programs for six years now and have attended several local Step Out walks as a volunteer, doing everything from handing out refreshments and granola bars to cheering on all of our diabetes champions at the finish line,' says Berg.
By participating in Step Out, Berg has raised more than $30,000 to help Stop Diabetes. She will walk again this October with the National Advocates in Action team in Seattle.
'Every dollar helps, meaning the more people we have on board the better,' she says. 'As a person who has lived with type 1 diabetes for nearly a decade, it is extremely important to me to get the word out about our cause and to fundraise for research toward a cure.'
Today, there are nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States who have diabetes, 7 million of whom are unaware that they have the disease. Recent estimates predict that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes in 2050 unless we take steps to Stop Diabetes.
'There's nothing more inspiring than walking through the finish line with fellow Red Striders knowing that you all came for a common cause: to take steps toward ending diabetes,' says Berg. 'I've really enjoyed talking with peers who have lived with the disease for a number of years and those who were recently diagnosed Step Out is a great place for finding new friends.'
With more than 125 Step Out events around the country, chances are there's a walk near you. For more information or to register for a walk in your community, visit www.diabetes.org/stepout or call (888) DIABETES (888-342-2383).