Diabetes Forecast

A Family Tradition

Step Out Team Gene walks in honor of a loved one

people gathered for step out walk

Members of Team Gene get ready to roll.

Summing up the Molitor family’s contribution to finding a cure goes something like this: $330,000 and 18 years of Step Out®: Walk to Stop Diabetes® events. And yet family members have given and continue to give so much more.

It all started in 1997, when Rita Molitor donated her kidney to her husband, Gene, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 21 years old. During their recovery that summer, one of their five children saw a flier for the American Diabetes Association’s Step Out walk in Minneapolis, which was taking place that fall. They decided to walk and haven’t stopped yet.

Gene Molitor served as the inspiration and team captain for many years, until his death in 2003. Since then, Rita, 65, has taken up the torch as team captain for their growing family. Rita, her five children, 17 grandchildren, sister, and nieces will all be walking again this year. “These kids talk about this [walk] all year,” she says.“ It’s like Christmas to them.”

Part of the fun for them is fund-raising, which has evolved over time. From personal letters and selling salsa to partnering with a local boutique, hosting wine tastings, and organizing an annual golf tournament, the Molitors look for new and exciting ways to raise money every year. But the reason for all of it is always on their minds.

“They know that it’s for Grandpa Gene, and they know that it’s helping lots of people,” says Molitor. The family aspect of the walk has kept the memory of Gene alive for the kids and grandkids—even those who never met him.

“They talk about him all the time, and you’d think that they knew him,” says Molitor. Their connection to Gene even spurs them to educate their classmates on diabetes. “They’ve written term papers on diabetes and done posters to show others our walks,” she says. “And that’s just the neatest thing.”

Calling All Teams

Families, corporations, neighborhoods, and church groups come together to enjoy the camaraderie and make a difference by participating in Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes. Start your team today at diabetes.org/stepout and begin a beloved tradition.



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