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Event promotes awareness about how to stop diabetes


Nov. 12, 2011 at 5:12 a.m.

Alicia Hemby leads a Zumba class from the local YMCA at the Stop Diabetes event on Saturday at Riverside Park. Exercise is a commonly suggested way to help prevent and manage diabetes, which is much more common in obese people.

A projected one in three Victoria residents will be diagnosed with diabetes throughout their lives, health practitioners said, and 9,500 residents already have the disease.

But on Saturday, the Crossroads fought back.

Victoria's first Stop Diabetes Day took place at Riverside Park with a run/walk, health screenings, cooking demonstrations and more.

Hosted by the American Diabetes Association, the goal was to screen for diabetes, offer free education and to get word out about the disease, said Joy Holladay, of Citizens Medical Center's Mission Valley clinic.

Saturday's screenings proved important to at least one attendee, said John Griffin, board chairman of the American Diabetes Association.

He said that person's blood sugar levels were dangerously high, to the point that they become toxic to the system. Early detection, however, can mean a world of difference.

"If they're newly diagnosed, they can take measures to stop things now," he said. "Before they begin feeling the effects."

Diabetes is the No. 1 cause of amputations, kidney disease and blindness, said Lisa Campbell, a doctor of nursing practice and registered nurse who helped with the event. If that wasn't enough to get people in for check-ups, she provided one more statistic.

"It also causes impotence in males," she said. "A lot of times, people are hesitant to get in to the doctor and get checked out. But you tell them that, and they'll make time."

Robert Rodriquez, who owns Robert's Eatery & Bakeshop, prepared turkey burgers for those at the event. He said his aim was to show people that healthy food can taste good, too.

"It's all in how you eat it," he said. "Portion size, things like that. It just takes some adjustment."

Laura Killebrew, center manager for Lincare in Victoria, said her company, which offers home medical equipment, attended because many with diabetes experience crossover diseases, too.

"Diabetes is one of those things where you can't get enough education on the support available," she said. "The more you know, the better. We hope to see events like this continue."

Organizers expected about 300 attendees, said Elizabeth Tobias, South Texas executive director for the American Diabetes Association. By noon, however, it looked like they might already be near the goal.

Victoria resident Rudy Cardenas weaved around vendor booths on a pair of crutches at the event. He was diagnosed with the disease years back but just had a big toe amputated three weeks ago.

Cardenas didn't fit the average diabetic stereotype, said Anna Kincaid, who attended with him. He wasn't overweight and was active in sports, but they became concerned when he found himself excessively thirsty all the time.

Tests confirmed diabetes - his blood sugar level sat at 400 - but a lack of insurance meant Cardenas didn't take the measures he should to stay healthy. Now, however, he said he is doing what he can to stay on top of things.

Optimism helps, too.

"At least it's just my toe. It could have been worse," he said with a smirk at Moo-Moo, the Shih-Tzu who accompanied him and Kincaid. "Maybe we should get her checked, too. Just in case."



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