SUNRISE — Tribal members chose the path of education and action as they joined a larger community in walking to fight diabetes on Oct. 20.
The American Diabetes Association sponsored the Step Out walk, which raised almost $200,000 with 1,730 registered participants, according to its website.
About 20 people represented Team Seminole, striding around the BB&T Center (formerly the BankAtlantic Center) in matching T-shirts for their 11th year. The Tribe sponsored the team.
The 8 a.m. kick off made Immokalee’s Little Miss Seminole Jordan Osceola tired, but she was driven by the cause.
“I’m walking for the diabetics to help them,” said Jordan, whose grandmother, Ruth Osceola, has diabetes.
Because diabetes is the No. 1 health problem among Native Americans and impacts one in three Americans, the event hit close to home for many Tribal members, including Eric Osceola, 47. He’s a diabetic on a mission to lose 100 pounds, and this walk served as his first diabetes event.
“It’s a good start to my journey,” he said. “I’m glad to be here and see all the Tribal members out here in support.”
At 2.5 miles, the walk was his longest trek in a while.
“You can start (improving your health) no matter how old you are, how big you are, how much you weigh, whatever it is,” he said. “Come on out and start somewhere. Start easy, but start somewhere.”
Nurse practitioner Pauline Good, who works for the Tribe, said that exercise was only one of many benefits of the walk; others included social support, networking and education.
“If you don’t have the education and background, you don’ know how to take care of yourself,” she said. “You don’t know the right food portions. You don’t know how good exercise is and what it does for getting insulin into the cells.”
Several booths provided information about diabetes prevention, treatment and awareness, as well as free onsite medical screenings and blood pressure checks.
Walking coordinator Edna McDuffie encouraged Tribal members to take advantage of the resources provided.
“We have fun and come together and enjoy the walk,” she said.
McDuffie connected the Tribe with Step Out in 2002, moved by the loss of her mother the previous year.
“It was all the more reason to do this (walk) every year, and the Tribal members really want to do this, too, in support of raising funds for diabetes,” she said.
Suzanne Davis, Allied Health program manager, said the walk is one of many events the Tribe does in collaboration with the American Diabetes Association.
“Diabetes is one of those things that you can take some action yourself to help keep yourself well, and walking is a huge part of that,” she said. “People don’t always know what’s going on, and so we like to show them that we have a very active, vibrant program to work with diabetes and to help prevent it and to help people who have diabetes take better care of themselves.”