News From The Front Lines by Martha Hicks Leta
All in all, Saturday October 22 was a great day for a walk, especially when it meant raising money and awareness to put an end to diabetes. While the showing from Fitness Together wasn’t as strong as last year, (we’ll hang that on the timing of our PACK Training rollouts) it was still pretty darn respectable.
Steve Lichtman, team captain for Cohasset, led our rag tag band of warriors, arriving at the crack of dawn to trick out the Fitness Together tent with banners, brochures, clipboards and flags. The team filled out nicely as the morning warmed with Maureen Sullivan from North Andover; Cathy Schaum, Marianne Cristello, Linda Morancy, Jean McQuestion, Irene Rossi, Michelle Rossi and trainer Vance Varian from Tyngsboro/Nashua. The Leta Family (Yours Truly with husband Lou, and daughters Bonnie and Caroline) carried the banner for Team Norwell; Representin’ for Notorious Team Westford was the ever-intrepid Ken Ballou and trainer Kati Salowski. Closing the age gap was baby Kaden Cardoza from Dedham, who had to be pushed in his stroller by parents Lisa and Michael Cardoza because, at two months old, apparently he’s “too little” to walk yet. (Whatever. We want to see him doing mountain climbers by Christmas, Michael.)
The Fitness Together tent, set in a primo location next to the registration area, attracted a fascinating variety of people who stopped by throughout the day to learn about our programs and to share their personal stories.
Maureen Sullivan chatted with a young woman who, while signing up her father to win some PACK training sessions, told Maureen about the difficulties of getting her rambunctious young cousin to sit still for his daily insulin injections. Maureen says, “The woman told me that the young boy turned to his older brother one day and said, ‘When I grow up, there will be a cure for my disease and I’ll be normal just like you.’ Here we are years later,” says Maureen, “Closer to a cure, but still with a high number of people suffering from the disease. That is why she walks every year.”
After the walk we were joined for lunch by Barbara, a woman with type 2 diabetes who’d been crippled by polio during her childhood in Italy in the 1960s. She said that in the early 1990’s several of her family members developed diabetes in quick succession. She wants to find a cure. Despite her dependence on a wheelchair, she came to volunteer for the walk and refused my offer to carry her trash to the waste barrel. “No, thanks. I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself.” And off she went.
We also met Noah, a young lad who went from table to table handing out temporary tattoos and Silly Bands shaped like blue flamingos. He calls himself “The Diabetes Dude” and says, “I have diabetes, but diabetes doesn’t have me.” At the age of 10, the Diabetes Dude has made it his personal business to travel the country telling his story. “I spend my time raising awareness of diabetes wherever I go, every chance I get and will continue to do so until there is a cure.”
Clearly, this cause matters a lot to a lot of people and the money raised is a big part of it. MC’d by Mix 104 morning drive disc jockey Karson, the opening ceremony featured team leaders and corporate sponsor presentations. FT’s own Steve Lichtman presented a check to the ADA for $20,000, an amount that roughly represents the collective contributions, thus far, from all Fitness Together Studios participating in the 2011 ADA co-operative program.
Patriot’s defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, who is raising money for his own diabetes foundation, said a few words about his late father, who was stricken by diabetes before he ever got the chance to see his son turn pro. “I had to give him shots at times, he was so weak,” said Wilfork. “I had to bathe him, had to take him to the restroom. There was a lot going on that my brother and I had to deal with. That’s why this is really close and dear to my heart.”
Though the big man was a hard act to follow, Tyngsboro/Nashua’s own big man, trainer Vance Varian, got the crowd fired up with a warm-up to Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger.” Said Vance’s boss, Cathy Schaum, “I was very proud of my young trainer leading the warm-ups. I thought he was very poised and enthusiastic in leading the crowd and represented the entire FT organization very well.”
Along with Fitness Together’s sizable group donation to the ADA, the organization can be especially proud of Fitness Together Westford, which came in third place for individual corporate fundraising at $5,115, trailing Walgreen’s Boston North and Waters Corporation. Westford owner Greg Briggle is also listed among the top 20 individual fundraisers. Greg’s talent and enthusiasm for fundraising for this cause is inspirational.
The number of walkers estimated at the event came in around 3,000. To date the ADA is at 59% of their total goal of $500,000.
You can still donate for the cause through our page at FTMass
View more photos from the walk on Facebook
For more information about Fitness Together in Massachusetts please go to FTGetsResults.com