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November 18, 2012

Stride Walk for diabetes raises awareness of public health epidemic

It may have been the first of its kind, but Saturday’s Stride Walk for Diabetes at Cullman’s Heritage Park got a promising start in accomplishing its goal — bringing awareness of the diabetes epidemic to the fore front in a part of the country where it’s affecting people the most.

More than a hundred supporters donning bright blue shirts turned out for the walk, a show of support for local diabetics and their families.

Event organizer Gloria Williams — working with the Cullman Community Lions’ Club, a new co-ed organization sponsoring the walk — said she was encouraged by the participation, and stressed the difference local diabetes awareness can make in the lives of those who live with the disease, as well as those who don’t — or don’t yet.

“There are a lot of people here for our first time, but I wish we could fill the whole place. I believe we’ve got the people, in Cullman, to do it,” she said. “We want to really get the awareness out there, because diabetes is not far away from anybody. I heard someone say that diabetics are ‘chameleons’ — they’re among you, but you don’t know it. You can have it, at first, and not know it.”

Leading the walk was Grand Marshal Cody Bales and his yellow Lab, Nash — one of only three active diabetes service animals in North Alabama. Using his sensitive nose, Nash helps monitor Bales — a Cold Springs student and Type I diabetic — by sensing his blood sugar levels and giving a friendly bark anytime Cody needs attention.

“He goes through a lot of stuff, but you never hear him say a word,” said Williams. “Cody is a great story, because he’s had problems since the day he was born, and yet he just has such a great, kind heart.”

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