On the chilly Saturday morning of November 23, runners, walkers and joggers came out to the 26th Annual Run Against Diabetes to improve diabetes awareness on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The event was held in recognition of November as American Diabetes Month.
More than 80 participants came from as far away as the Gila River Indian Community and braved the cold, rainy weather to take part in one of four events: the kids’ dash, a 5K run, a 2-mile run, and a 1-mile family run/walk at Salt River High School.
The kids’ dash was the first event of the morning. Children were divided into three age groups. That was followed by the 5K run, a 3.1-mile route going from the high school soccer field to Center Street, then south on Center to Indian School Road, and back. The 2-mile event started shortly afterward, with the course going in the same direction. The 1-mile family fun run/walk rounded out the events.
Those who finished their event earlier cheered on the runners as they crossed the finish line. Once everyone completed their event, the Salt River Fitness Center staff handed out trophies for first and second place in each category. Each year a traveling trophy is also awarded, to the group or Indian community with the highest number of representative participants. This year the trophy went to the Gila River Indian Community.
“I have been participating in the diabetes runs since 2004,” said Lindsay Cuch. “My brother passed away from diabetes, my sister has it, and [also] my mom and grandma. They help me stay motivated when I do this run and stay healthy. Eating healthy and teaching my kids to eat healthy helps us deter diabetes.”
Community member Crystal Webster brought her children to participate in the kids’ dash and 1-mile family run/walk. Webster educates her children to keep diabetes away by watching what they eat, limiting sweets and walking a mile as a family every night.
“When they see the longer races, they want to take part in those, but I don’t think they are quite ready for it yet,” said Webster about her children and how they enjoy the various runs and walks on the Community.
Merlin Jackson has had relatives pass away and lose limbs due to complications of diabetes.
“I think most families are affected by diabetes,” said Jackson. “Every time [the Salt River Fitness Center] has a run, we (he and his wife) try to come out. We try to be an example to my children by showing them that they too can come out and do these events to help prevent diabetes.”
The turnout was good, according to Michelle Reina-Long, physical fitness specialist with the Salt River Fitness Center. “We had more runners this year than last year,” she said.
The next event is the January New Year’s Road Race to support the Community’s cancer support group.