More than 100 people gathered in Palmerton Borough Park this weekend to support the American Diabetes Association during the fifth annual Palmerton 5K for Diabetes. The event raised $2,600 for the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Onlookers and supporters cheered as 96 runners and walkers began their race down Third Street and Lafayette Avenue in Palmerton. Many participants had taken part in the race before and are active supporters of the ADA.

"I do believe that it's a great cause," said Susan Williams of Palmerton, who has taken part in the annual 5K for 4 of the past five years and has a family member with diabetes. "I see what the problems are, and I think about the children who will be affected by this disease."

Seeing participants and volunteers return each year has been just one of the benefits of holding the annual event in Palmerton, said event coordinator and founder Carla Majczan, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in childhood.

"There is enough interest that the people who are a part of it one year, they want to come back," she said. "I know there were a lot of people who if someone in their family has diabetes, the whole family will come out to walk. It's nice to see things like that happen. Seeing people gathered for the 5K, and hearing their stories, makes all of the work worth it."

For local ADA associate director Dawn Fernandez, smaller events, such as the walk in Palmerton, play an important role in raising diabetes support and awareness. Funds raised for the ADA are used toward diabetes research, education, and community awareness.

"Without events like this, we would not be able to hit our goals," says Fernandez. "We want to better the lives of those with diabetes and hopefully one day find a cure."

During the walk, Majczan thanked participants for coming out in support of the ADA. She also thanked the two dozen volunteers and sponsors who made the event possible. Music during the event was provided by AC DJ's of Quakertown.

Majczan is already planning next year's 5K, which will include new opportunities for participants to win medals. For the first time, medals will be awarded to the first three male and female walkers to cross the finish line.

As normal, 5K runners will have a chance to win a trophy or medals as the fastest runners in each gender and age category. There will also be a "pump and run" division. A "pump and run" is a race in which participants bench press a percentage of their body weight before running the 5K. The weight that they bench press is determined by the age and gender of each participant. Each rep completed will result in time deducted from their 5K run time.

Medals will be awarded to "pump and run" participants separately from the traditional 5K race.

"People can choose to do the pump and run, but they don't have to," said Majczan. "I'm excited to reach out to people who want to do other types of races."

She noted that people will still have the option of completing the traditional 5K without lifting weights.

"There are now more opportunities for them to win medals. There's still a 5K, and there's still a walking part."

The next major ADA benefit in this area will be the Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes on Oct. 13 in Bethlehem. Participants can choose from a 5K (3 mile) or 1 mile walking route through south Bethlehem. The walk will start at Steel Stacks at 10 a.m. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. For more information or to register, go to www.diabetes.org/lehighvalley or call 1-888-DIABETES.