Diabetes Forecast

Red Striders Walk With Pride

Five people with diabetes tell why they “Step Out” every year for the cause

Red Striders Walk With Pride

Photographs by Thomas Alleman

The Red Striders are coming! Meet the people who have brought you the good word on Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes®. Step Out is the American Diabetes Association’s walking event to raise money for diabetes research, education, and awareness. Red Striders are people with diabetes who participate in the event. Learn more about why these Red Striders step out.

Jahna Houston

Red Strider

Jahna Houston, 63, of North Hollywood, Calif. Actor, writer, and producer.

Diabetes Stats: Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes seven years ago. Manages with diet and exercise. Her mother, siblings, and other family members also live with diabetes.

Step Out Experience: Started three years ago, when a friend who participated in the Seattle Step Out askedif Houston was participating in the Los Angeles event. Houston decided she would and became the Team Red captain. She was Red Strider chair for 2013.

Why She Steps Out: To raise awareness about a cause that hits close to home. “We need to demystify diabetes and really bring it into the realm of real for people. This is the first [charity event] that has really touched me personally, and that’s what makes me passionate about being part of this.”

Rhiana Wynn

Red Strider

Rhiana Wynn, 8, of Saugus, Calif. Elementary school student.

Diabetes Stats: Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 4. Manages with an insulin pump and gets help from her parents counting carbs. For exercise, she loves gymnastics and riding her bike, plus “I just run around a lot.”

Step Out Experience: Rhiana and her family first learned about the American Diabetes Association and Step Out at a Family Link event, where she and her parents met other families affected by diabetes. Last year, Rhiana was the Los Angeles Step Out Youth Ambassador. “It’s really scary because you have to do a speech in front of a lot of people. But kinda good, because I got to cut the red ribbon to start the walk.”

Why She Steps Out: To encourage other people with diabetes and to meet other kids like her. “I would just say it’s a lot of fun, and you get to talk to other diabetics, and you get to dance to music—it’s just really fun.”

Jennifer Weiss

Red Strider

Jennifer Weiss, 37, of Toluca Lake, Calif. Writer.

Diabetes Stats: Diagnosed with prediabetes two years ago. Manages with diet and exercise, but “the decisions are not always easy.” Her father died of diabetes-related complications in 2007.

Step Out Experience: Joined in 2007 to honor her dad’s memory. Weiss thought a fund-raising goal of $500 might be pushing it—but then she became a Champion, a Step Out participant who raises $1,000 or more. She’s done the same every year since, and she’s been cochair of the Los Angeles Step Out event.

Why She Steps Out: To provide support for herself and others. “When I show up to that walk that morning, it hits you like a freight train, and you know, ‘I’m not alone.’ Statistics are boring, but people are not. There are tons of people here who are just like me, and we can be powerful together.”

Eddie Uribe

Red Strider

Eddie Uribe, 43, of Sylmar, Calif. Chef.

Diabetes Stats: Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1989. Manages with an insulin pump, diet, and exercise, “especially if you count chasing around two 6½-year-old twins!”

Step Out Experience: Uribe was motivated  to join the walk in 2004—less than a year after his leg was amputated below the knee. He started participating in Step Out and other ADA events (including giving cooking demonstrations and updating family recipes to healthier options) and has been part of the planning committee for the Valencia, Calif., walk since then. He was also an ADA representative on Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

Why He Steps Out: To motivate other people with diabetes to stay healthy together. “For the first five years, I never took care of myself. After that, I finally woke up, and in my older years, started having some complications. I get really passionate about it, and I like to go and talk to young kids and give them a kind of scared-straight thing. It’s good to see how many people support the organization, and it makes me feel good that people care about our situation.”

Joan Sharpless

Red Strider

Joan Sharpless, 63, of Glendale, Calif. Retiree.

Diabetes Stats: Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1989. Manages with diet, exercise, metformin, and sitagliptin (Januvia). Also manages hearing loss and depression—both of which are more common in people who have diabetes.

Step Out Experience: Joined up with the American Diabetes Association after retiring in 2013. “I was looking for something to do, so I put an e-mail out there. Within seconds, I think, I got a call from [ADA special-events manager] Beth Cole. She’s amazing, and she pulled me in and put me on as a volunteer. And then before I knew it, she invited me to be part of the planning committee [for Step Out].”

Why She Steps Out: For others with diabetes, and for herself. “If you can donate your time at all, you will help so many people, because this reaches across the world. I don’t just walk for me; I don’t just walk for the ADA. I walk for the world, and you have to, as best you can.”



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