In Memory of Nate Waters' Mission of Doing Good
Editor's note: It is with sadness that we report that Nate Waters died on April 21, 2013, in Tulsa, Okla. He was 35.
As a young man, Nate Waters, 35, of Tulsa, Okla., had a unique perspective on how diabetes affected the people in his community. While he did not have diabetes, he was surrounded by people burdened by complications, including damaged eyes and missing limbs, and struggling to maintain their health. He was living in a nursing home.
Waters spent years in nursing care after his mother's boyfriend broke his neck in an assault, paralyzing Waters at age 19. As he worked through rehabilitation, Waters vowed to help his neighbors living with diabetes. "It gave me a firsthand view on the dangers of diabetes … by looking at my fellow residents at the nursing homes that I lived at, and close friends," Waters says. "It really motivated me to get involved, to see what I could do to get involved with the American Diabetes Association and Stop Diabetes®."
Now living on his own and working as an accountant at WPX Energy in Tulsa, Waters is quickly becoming one of the ADA's greatest champions in Oklahoma. He's captained multiple Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes® teams and has become a corporate ambassador to promote Stop Diabetes @ Workâ , a workplace-based initiative to help people make lifestyle changes to reduce their type 2 diabetes risk.
"Employee health is a major issue," Waters says. "The good thing about the whole Stop Diabetes @ Work program is that it's free to the company. It's something that the company can really utilize to encourage their employees to live a healthier lifestyle."
So far, Waters has helped bring the program to about five companies, with the goal of getting it into every workplace in Oklahoma. Ann Richards Ketcham, executive director of the Association's Oklahoma Area office, believes Waters has what it takes to make the program widespread. "I think he's on a mission," she says. "He believes in our cause, and he understands that it takes money to fund research and fund education and advocacy—and he's not bashful, for the American Diabetes Association or for the other causes that he believes in."
Indeed, Waters is an incredible fund-raiser, having collected more than $21,000 for the ADA alone. He's also raised money for the American Cancer Society, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Bridges Foundation, the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges, and Tulsa Sports Charities, according to a profile in TulsaPeople Magazine. In 2012, he received the ADA's LEARN Outreach Award for outstanding volunteerism at the Association's Community Volunteer and Leadership Conference in New Orleans.
Waters hopes his example helps others get the volunteer bug. "When you're vocal, people can see what you're doing, and it may be something that they're already interested in, and you can make the connection," he says. "I'm very thankful. Just through my life experiences, I've been able to turn something that was negative that happened to me into something positive that's benefited many more people."