"Those words have forever changed my life..."
The high rate of diabetes cases in Muscogee County is the impetus behind an awareness campaign planned for September.
On Monday, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson unveiled plans for Cure Diabetes Week, which will be observed Sept. 25-30. The announcement was made at a news conference. Among those present were residents who will spearhead the event on behalf of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. The group includes JDRF volunteer leaders, Columbus Regional and St. Frances Hospital representatives, along with staff from the Center for Diabetes and Metabolism led by Dr. Steven Leichter.
Events, the first of which will be held July 25, will include a walk and tailgate cook-off contest. Rudy Allen, a former Georgia Tech quarterback who was tackled at the end of the movie “Rudy,” will be the grand marshal.
Tomlinson said there was a poll recently conducted showing that 68 percent of Muscogee County residents are concerned about diabetes and 48 percent think it’s a major problem.
“Muscogee County actually has a very high rate of diabetes deaths related to that chronic disease — 53.6 deaths out of 100,000 people in Muscogee County,” she said. “That’s higher than the national rate. It’s almost twice, I believe, of what the state rate is.”
Diabetes is a manageable, sometimes preventable disease, the mayor said. And the campaign will focus on educating the community about both treatment and preventable measures.
Leichter said diabetes is one of the most pressing health issues facing the county.
“It is a very high-cost of hospitalization and disability,” he said. “It affects poor people more than people in high socioeconomic groups.”
Tomlinson said cities didn’t always get involved in health issues, but that’s changing across the country.
“As we evolve as a country, as a state as a community, yes, you do see cities getting more and more involved in this because healthcare and people’s quality of life are inextricably tied to their personal well-being, which includes most fundamentally their personal health,” she said. “... But now when you start seeing cities being polled and ranked for where they stand on livability and all these various factors, they’re now very much looking at healthcare, and also the rate chronic diseases.”
Events for Cure Diabetes Week are as follows:
- July 25, 6 to 8 p.m., kickoff event for children and parents at Bowlero
- September 11, “Golf for a Cure” at Columbus Country Club; adult tournament at 8:30 a.m.; children’s events at 4:30 p.m.
- September 26, 6:30 p.m., cooking demonstration, St. Francis Hospital
- September 28, 6 p.m. Abby Dionne Research Conference, Midtown Medical Center
- September 30, 8 a.m., JDRF One Walk and Tailgate Cook-off