Lace up your sneakers: It's time to register for the fifth annual Palmerton 5K for Diabetes, which benefits the American Diabetes Association. The race/walk will take place Saturday, Aug. 25 at 9 a.m. in Palmerton Borough Park.
The Palmerton 5K for Diabetes will raise funds for the American Diabetic Association (ADA), whose goal is to prevent, cure and manage diabetes. The race/walk is founded and organized by volunteer Carla Majczan, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in childhood.
"Everyone knows somebody who is diabetic. Every person is affected by this disease in some shape or form," said Majczan. "And this disease affects every part of their life."
One in 10 adults currently has diabetes, a disease marked by high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels can cause health problems such as heart disease or stroke and can also damage the eyes, skin or nerves. Diabetes is now the seventh leading cause of death, but actively managing the disease can reduce health risks. Doctors diagnose diabetes through a simple blood test.
Majczan credits the Palmerton 5K's past success to the sheer size of the diabetes epidemic, noting that many local people are driven to support the ADA in their neighborhood.
"It had just grown so much. People wanted to come back and do it again this year," she said, adding that last year's event grew to more than 100 runners and walkers. She hopes to see even more people at the fundraiser this year.
"The more people who come out, the more people who you tell about it, the bigger an impact we can have."
Of course, Majczan and all supporters of the ADA dream of a day that these fundraisers will be unnecessary and a cure for diabetes is found. Until then, she continues to support ADA's mission of treating and preventing the disease.
"It would be nice if people could just take a pill and be done with diabetes for the day," said Majczan, noting that it's not that simple. While medication plays an important role in managing her diabetes, she also plays close attention to her diet and physical activity.
She hopes taking part in the 5K will encourage others to become or stay active.
"The better health you're in, the easier your diabetes will be to control. A huge part of diabetes is exercising and eating healthy," she said. "This is a great reason for people to come out and start exercising.
"In some of the past races, families walked together," she added. "I see how when people cross the finish line, they're proud that they've crossed this hurdle. It's kind of representative of the whole disease."
While the Palmerton event reaches just a fraction of the people the ADA expects at its annual "Step Out Walk" in Bethlehem and Scranton, local ADA associate director Dawn Fernandez says that these smaller events are just as important as those that receive national attention.
"Any event that we can do to get people involved in the community, it's a great thing," said Fernandez. "They may seem small on a local level, but in the big picture these events allow great things to happen."
She noted that ADA research has been used to create new and more effective ways of treating diabetes, including advanced insulin pumps that allow Type 1 diabetics to lead more active lives. They are also "closing the gap" on the technology required to create an artificial pancreas, she added. This breakthrough was made possible in part by support of local volunteers such as Majczan, and those who support her fundraisers.
"Her last five years of raising this money has put us closer toward this breakthrough. It's amazing to have volunteers like her out there," she said.
The ADA is actively looking for volunteers and sponsors for the event. For more information or to register for the Palmerton 5K for Diabetes, call 888-342-2383 ext. 4625 or 610-390-2086, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.