(ARA) - Every year, rain or shine, walkers across the country join together to bring awareness to a deadly disease. They walk for their friends, family, co-workers and themselves.
Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes, the American Diabetes Association's signature fundraising walk, raises more than $20 million a year to support the Association's mission to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The event has been taking place for more than 20 years and has raised over $150 million to Stop Diabetes.
One walker stepping out this year is Mary Ellen Quigley of Indianapolis. Quigley did her first Step Out walk last year after having recently lost her mother, Ellen, to complications from diabetes. This year she has formed a team to walk in her memory called "Ellen's Warriors."
"Diabetes changed my life because it changed my mother's life. Losing my mother to this disease motivated me to try and make a difference. I decided to become involved with Step Out and did the walk almost exactly one month after her death. I cried the whole time, but I knew she would be proud that I was helping others," says Quigley.
Walk teams can come in all sizes - two or more people make a team. There are all types of teams including corporations, families, clubs and organizations, and school groups, who build teams to walk for those who have been touched by diabetes. People with diabetes can choose to walk as a Red Strider. A Red Strider is someone who has diabetes - type 1, type 2 or gestational.
"Programs like Step Out help keep the fight going," Quigley adds. "The biggest misconception of diabetes is that it is a death sentence. It doesn't have to be. There are ways to take care of yourself that can help you live a very long and full life, and exercise is one of those ways."
Step Out is a one way to show support for the nearly 26 million children and adults in the U.S living with diabetes and the 79 million more who are at risk. Research shows you can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by 58 percent if you lose 7 percent of your body weight (15 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds) and exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week (this can include a brisk walk).
There are 125 Step Out events around the country. For more information or to register for a walk in your community, visit www.diabetes.org/stepout or call (888) DIABETES (888-342-2383).