Diabetes Forecast

Stepping Inside and Out

This fall, walkers fought diabetes in Ohio—and around the United States

By Katie Bunker , ,

Just months after 14-year-old Elise Hofmann was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in August 2007, she and her family decided to participate in the American Diabetes Association's Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes in Columbus, Ohio.

Since then, Elise has wasted no time in taking charge of her own diabetes care—her A1C is down to 5.5 percent—and in continuing her involvement with ADA as well, as a youth ambassador and continuing participant in Step Out. The aspiring rock musician says that aside from raising money for a great cause, she wants to tell people more about the disease.

"The main thing is to get more people to know about diabetes," Elise says. "I want to spread the word and get more people involved and educated about it."

For Columbus residents, October's Step Out event was a chance to do that in a truly educational setting: COSI, the city's Center of Science and Industry museum. The 3.1-mile walk wove inside the building and out, making it the only Step Out event in the country to be held both indoors and outdoors. Walkers also visited a healthy living fair, which included services like "Ask the Pharmacist," "Ask the Endocrinologist," and foot exams.

Elsewhere, more than 100,000 walkers participated in more than 170 Step Out events between September and November, raising an estimated $19 million in all. (Donations will continue to be collected until December 31.) In Columbus alone, walkers raised an estimated $97,000.

Carol Heller, ADA associate manager for the Step Out walk, says Ohioans with diabetes have specific issues they are concerned about: health care coverage, for one. "Type 2s in Ohio rarely have insurance coverage to consult with a dietitian," Heller says. "And Ohio is one of four states that do not have a mandate for state-regulated insurance to cover diabetes supplies and medicines."

She's also noticed the prevalence of the disease in the Columbus area and throughout the state. "We speak at staff meetings and lunch-and-learns, and I haven't had one yet where someone hasn't come up to me to say they think they have diabetes, or someone they know has died from its complications, or someone they know is suffering from it."
Elise Hofmann's mother, Mary, says that for her family, her daughter's diagnosis illuminated the diabetes problem in the Columbus area. "Once I told people my daughter was just diagnosed, people I had known for a long time would tell me they knew people who had diabetes," Hofmann says.

Mary and Elise Hofmann joined family, friends, and members of an Ohio State University sorority on their Step Out team this year, called "For Elise/The Cure." As Mary Hofmann says, "We want to do whatever we can."



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