May 20, 2013

Points East: Walking for a cure

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — We know it’s still two weeks away but my 4-year-old grandson, Tyler Kane Ochs and I are still seeking sponsors for our participation in the American Diabetes Association’s  “Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes” event that is coming up on June 1 at Keeneland.  

So far, 15 of my column readers have sent us checks and one person made an online donation, but as that cute little girl says in a wildly popular television commercial, “We want more. We want more. We want more!”

Actually, I’ve been looking for an excuse to use that line in regular conversation or in the column for weeks, now. But you guys are actually doing good. You have already sent Team TKO over $500! But, last year, we had over 30 reader sponsors and we topped out at around $1,000. And, last year, we only bugged you one time and that was the week of the event.  I promise you faithfully we won’t be asking again and you won’t hear anymore about the Step Out Walk in this column until I report on how well we did and how far we walked sometime next month.  

Early on, Tyler’s mom, my daughter Jennifer, and I discussed limiting our fundraising this year to a cause specifically focused on Type 1 juvenile diabetes because it is so traumatic to both the children who suffer from it and for their families. Treating it is incredibly expensive for parents with woefully inadequate health insurance or none at all.   

That’s where our hearts really go out.  Wouldn’t it be great to have a fund that would assure that very young kids with diabetes and their parents had easily-affordable, adequate care and treatment of the disease without having to worry about losing the house? Without crying all night and worrying what on earth they can do to save their kid’s life, or at least make it more bearable.         

The truth of the matter is it would take several billion dollars a year to really address that need. We believe our best effort is to help find a cure and ways to prevent the disease in the first place. We also believe the American Diabetes Association to be the organization best suited to spearhead the cutting edge research and development that may ultimately lead to those solutions.  

And kids like Tyler, most of whom have to have 6 or 8 blood tests followed by as many insulin injections every day of their lives, will one day be adults.  Diabetes does not go away nor does the absolute necessity for insulin.

I suspect many, if not most, of you know adults who have had legs or arms amputated because of diabetes complications.  The disease also leads to often-fatal  liver and kidney failure and heart disease.  It is a leading cause of strokes.  I’ve had one of those, myself, almost surely brought on by diabetes.  Diabetics are almost four times more likely to suffer a stroke than people who do not have the disease.   

Diabetics are almost four times more likely to have heart disease.  Diabetes is, by far, the leading cause of blindness among adults over 20.

I’ve had people tell me that as long as I manage the disease, it’s not going to kill me. Oh yeah?

As far as I’m concerned, it has already taken one good shot at trying.  As most of you know, I have Parkinson’s  Disease. And guess what; medical research now shows Parkinson’s can be caused by diabetes.  

But, thank God, I’m still able to wobble around in such a way that it passes for walking and that’s precisely what Tyler and I, along with a host of our friends and family members, intend to do on the morning of June 1.

If you have already made a donation to sponsor Team TKO, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  Tyler will be getting out extra-special thank you notes soon after the walk.

In the meantime, if you’d like to support us, you can make an online donation at: then click on donate, then enter my name or team tko and follow your nose.

Please note the team name needs to be entered in lower case letters.  

 If you’d rather make a paper donation, simply make your check payable to American Diabetes Association, write Team TKO in the memo line and mail it to my home address — 249 Charlie Brown Road, Paint Lick, KY 40461.  Tyler and I will take it from there.


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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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