A report by Eliot LeBow LCSW
So, where to start? It was an early start for the staff and volunteers at 5:00 AM. Tents were set up, and breakfast was being served by 8:00 AM.
Then the walkers started to arrive! The anticipation to see the beginning of the walk was growing.
By 9:00 AM, most of them, had arrived. The sea of walkers was tightly packed, crammed, and looked a lot like an impenetrable jungle of people of every shape and size. You could barely get anywhere.
Let me start by giving you a behind the scenes look at this event. It took a massive amount of people to pull this walk off. Hundreds of volunteers, quite a few organizers from the “Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes” event committee from the ADA made sure everything went smoothly.
At times, it feels like people with diabetes are alone in our disease with no support. That is not true as this event clearly demonstrated since many of the volunteers did not have diabetes. Charity organizations you may not think are out there supporting people living with diabetes like the Masons came out in droves.
Peter Jones was one of the Masons who I had the pleasure to get to know. He was a warm and giving individual who came out to the event, “because that’s what we do. Our organization is founded on helping our community.” He then rattled off over ten events that he and his fellow members volunteer at including events for Brest Cancer Awareness Day and much more. He rattled them off so fast, that it was second nature to him.
With all of these people volunteering, one can’t help but feel supported.
After the walk had started, it was now time to begin preparing for the return of the walkers. I had begun my day at the gift bag station and then quickly moved to jump in and help to make over one thousand bag lunches. (Humorously, if I see another lunch bag within the next year, it will be too soon. I couldn’t believe we made that many!) We created an assembly line to put fruits, sunflower seeds, all natural energy bars, pretzels and peanuts into brown paper bags. The whole process took 3-1/2 hours non-stop with 15 coordinated volunteers all working together. We laughed and chatted while never losing sight of what we needed to accomplish so all of the walkers (who were also all winners) could eat when they finished. We wanted to make sure they felt supported while they were helping the diabetic community.
At the finish line, volunteers were cheering the walkers and runners on. There were placards with “Way to Go” and other supportive sayings on them. There was a great band playing and lots of sponsor booths set up with free gifts. There were red baseball caps everywhere. It was a blast.
Overall, everyone had a terrific time. There was a real sense of companionship and warmth coming from the walkers and volunteers. There was a sense of camaraderie and a coming together as one diabetic community.
There was no type 1 or 2, just TYPE D.
What an incredible day for all of us!
Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.