Knights of the Blind

A scene as it might be viewed by a person with...

A scene as it might be viewed by a person with diabetic retinopathy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On 30 June 1925, blind and deaf Helen Keller charged Lions to be “Knights of the Blind.”

Frankfort Lions have a tradition of focus on service projects related to supporting the blind. Among them is the Sights and Sounds raffle in April, the Candy Day collection on street corners around town in October. Another is STRIDES: Lions and Lincoln Way Walk for Diabetes Awareness.

Why support STRIDES, and why make people aware of diabetes?  Before answering that question here are some statistics from the American Diabetes Association. The answer follows.

***********************************************************************************

Data from the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet (released Jan. 26, 2011)

Total prevalence of diabetes

Total: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.

Diagnosed: 18.8 million people

Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people

Prediabetes: 79 million people*

New Cases: 1.9 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010.

* In contrast to the 2007 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, which used fasting glucose data to estimate undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes, the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet uses both fasting glucose and A1C levels to derive estimates for undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes. These tests were chosen because they are most frequently used in clinical practice.

Under 20 years of age

  • 215,000, or 0.26% of all people in this age group have diabetes
  • About 1 in every 400 children and adolescents has diabetes

Age 20 years or older

  • 25.6 million, or 11.3% of all people in this age group have diabetes

Age 65 years or older

  • 10.9 million, or 26.9% of all people in this age group have diabetes

Men

  • 13.0 million, or 11.8% of all men aged 20 years or older have diabetes

Women

  • 12.6 million, or 10.8% of all women aged 20 years or older have diabetes

________________________________________________________________________

The answer for why the Frankfort Lions promote STRIDES.

Blindness (taken from the ADA website to read the entire article click here)

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20–74 years.

  • In 2005-2008, 4.2 million (28.5%) people with diabetes aged 40 years or older had diabetic retinopathy, and of these, almost 0.7 million (4.4% of those with diabetes) had advanced diabetic retinopathy that could lead to severe vision loss.

    Donate to STRIDES

    Proceeds from STRIDES is donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the American Diabetes Association

It’s Morning in Frankfort

The opportunity clock rang at 6:15 this morning for the second day in a row. Normally, I just sleep until nature wakes me. Yesterday and today were special. It was Lions Candy Day weekend. We Serve is the motto of the Lions club and I take that seriously. In spite of the fact that I was tired this morning, I dragged my sorry butt out of bed at 6:30 and dressed. I left without breakfast. Peggy thought I was crazy, because I am never awake for more than ten minutes before I’m shoveling food into my mouth.

I met my fellow Lions at Starbucks. We got our candy, collection buckets, and assignments from Lion Sue and took off. I went to Burger King and had breakfast. As I ate, I watched the intersection that I would be manning and realized that Saturday morning is a loser. The morning before, I was a target from three directions. The number of cars, trucks and UFO’s coming at me was voluminous. This morning things were kind of sleepy, like me. I called Lion Sue and asked for a new corner. She assigned me to route 45 at Nebraska. Okay, anything would be better than 45 and Colorado. I stood at the intersection for an hour and collected about ten bucks. As I stood there I had the chance to see things that struck  a chord. It was Frankfort waking up. I saw people jogging and walking dogs along quiet village  streets and trails. The roar of trucks and heavy traffic was not there. In fact, the singing tires of a car speeding along on U.S. 45 was predominant. A garbage truck turned onto Nebraska and pulled into the Creamery parking lot to empty the dumpster. I hummed a tune to keep my mind active, and remembered President Reagan‘s essay It’s Morning In America. Normal people were going about their business oblivious to the effect of big government taking over their lives. They went about the affairs of life that they had control over.

Lion Sue bailed me out and sent me to the Jewel. I couldn’t believe the action there either, Jewel was slow. If Peggy and I were shopping on a Saturday, Jewel would be having grocery basket accidents in the aisles. Even so, collections were a tad better than at the last corner. I collected about twenty bucks  in a half hour.

My next assignment was at White and Nebraska. There was no one at the corner from the Lions. I took up the post and within ten minutes had collected more than I had in the previous two hours. There was a charity run in town, and the traffic it generated was crazy. It was non-stop cars for the next two hours. It was a  Candy Day Salesman’s dream. The money collected is a necessary commodity to keep our Camps open for kids with blindness. Selling candy is secondary to the notion that the end result serves a higher purpose.

People saw me standing there and approached cautiously with the window rolling down. A dollar bill emerged and dropped into my bucket. I handed the driver a roll of candy and got a smile and a thank you in return. I have to admit, people were giving generously and cheerfully.

I returned home at 12:30, ate a sandwich, and collapsed into a deep sleep on the couch. I dreamed about the next challenge coming in two weeks, the Strides Walk.

Lions “Strides Walk For Diabetes Awareness”

Finally, I am coming down from an adrenaline high. The high is the result of helping to organize an event with my local Lions Club. It’s been years since I participated in an event that involved getting the public to come and have fun. Talk about baby steps and motivation. I committed by suggesting the event. Never suggest something unless you are willing to “walk the talk.” When I talk, I am ready to follow up with action too. This walk was no different from the many scouting events that I organized and participated in.

The weather was crappy, although none us who worked noticed. We were too busy having fun to care. The baby steps planned in advance were unfolding and moving forward by many people.  We had a good turn out of Lion members, local Boy Scouts, and the area hospital. We marked walking trails of three lengths, put up sponsor signs, erected a tent, set up tables for registration, had 200 goodie bags prepared, and ready to go. In the week prior to the event today, four area newspapers, and the local TV channel gave us publicity. All planning and organization was  done by  a three man team. Our objective was threefold:

 1. Make people aware of Diabetes and its complications,

 2. Promote walking as a healthful tool to manage diabetes, and

3. Raise money for the American Diabetes Association.

In spite of the weather we accomplished all three of our goals. A beautiful side benefit is that our Lions Club is considering the walk as an annual event. 

Our day was a drizzle, forty degrees, and windy. Amazingly, we registered 23 walkers. On a nice day, the same trail would have seen several hundred walkers from the town. We think the 23 should be honored as heroes for coming out to support us in such hypothermic conditions.

I can’t begin to count the baby steps that we took to get this event off the ground. It took constant communication, and brainstorming to identify the steps. After logging the steps, it took energy to take action to make the steps happen. With regular meetings, e-mail, and the phone, the planning made it come to fruition.

We started on March 4 with the idea, and excuted it on April 12th. We visioned a successfull turnout of two hundred walkers. When someone warned us about poor weather, we saw the day as being warm and sunny. 

The vison was realized!

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