BoomerCafé thrives on baby boomers reinventing themselves, and sometimes just finding themselves for the first time. This story by Cincinnati author Linda Lange falls somewhere in-between. And it all started when she went out for a walk.
I never used to understand fundraising walks. I’d wonder, “Why don’t people just solicit donations? Walking doesn’t cure diseases.” But when I learned about Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes, walking for a charity made perfect sense. Like many boomers, I myself developed Type 2 diabetes in middle-age, and walking helps me control it.
At the beginning, I was skeptical when my doctor said that if I lost weight and exercised, I might be able to “cure” my diabetes. But when a brisk, half-hour walk dropped my blood glucose forty-four points, I became a believer. I’ll always be diabetic, but walking has helped me lose fifty pounds and maintain normal sugars without medication.
Not every Type 2 can achieve those results, but many could and don’t try. By walking and telling my story, I thought, maybe I could reach some of those people.
So I registered for the American Diabetes Association’s Cincinnati event as a Red Strider— walker with diabetes. I regularly walk two miles, so the timed 5K walk/run (3.1 miles) was a fair challenge. I raised $500, earning a special Red Strider T-shirt.
Saturday, November 1, dawned gray, blustery, and … “It’s snowing!” I shrieked. I’d hoped to show off my new shirt, but decided to top it with a warm jacket.
Flakes still fluttered down as 1,200 walkers, runners, and volunteers gathered at Great American Ball Park here in Cincinnati. I winced when I saw a young girl with a Red Strider shirt like mine. Those kids with Type 1 diabetes have it a lot worse than I do. I merely have to diet and exercise. They endure countless needle sticks and miss out on some of the fun things their friends do.
One participant’s shirt read, “I walk for my best friend.” I wondered if the money I’d raised would help fund new options for my BFF Pam, whose diabetes is barely controlled.
[Linda Lange book – Incomplete Passes:Reflections on Life, Love, and Football – is available at Amazon.com.]
The gun sounded. I tried to find a rhythm. Walking into the wind, I was thankful for every layer I wore. Runners surged ahead; walkers surrounded me. Grade-school kids passed me. So did a beagle mix, trotting beside its owner. “I’ll be happy just to finish,” I thought.
I wasn’t daunted by the distance or the weather. My big concern: could I walk three miles without needing a bathroom? With a dry mouth, I skipped the stand where volunteers offered water.
Three blocks, two, one … there was the finish line. I was going to make it. “Last burst of speed!” a volunteer urged. I saved my burst until I saw the door marked WOMEN.
Later I saw online that my time was 51:17 and at 67, I was the oldest woman to compete. And not the last to finish.
A poster at the event asked, “Why do you walk?” To raise awareness among Type 2s, for the children, for Pam? Honestly, I walked for myself, to celebrate my body and my new, active lifestyle. I’m a Red Strider. I strode.
And I can’t wait to do it again next year.