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October 2, 2007 > Oakland A's & Washington Hospital Team Up to Raise Diabetes Awareness

Oakland A's & Washington Hospital Team Up to Raise Diabetes Awareness

Local Children Learn Healthy Eating & Exercise Tips to Prevent Diabetes

Oakland Athletics second baseman Mark Ellis recently took a break from his busy baseball schedule to talk to children about a topic that is very close to his heart - diabetes. Ellis grew up watching his paternal grandmother suffer from Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, and he has also watched one of his best childhood friends grow up with juvenile diabetes.

Those reminders motivated Ellis and his Oakland A's teammate, Bobby Crosby, to start a fundraising campaign to raise funds and awareness for diabetes. Through the "Putouts For Diabetes Program," Ellis and Crosby each donate $50 per putout toward their annual presentation to the American Diabetes Association.

"I watched my grandmother lose her vision and watched her give herself insulin shots," Ellis said. "Also, she eventually died because of diabetes."

To help raise diabetes awareness, Ellis teamed up with Theresa Garnero APRN, BC-ADM, MSN, CDE, director of Diabetes Services at Washington Hospital to speak to more than 50 children at the Fremont/Newark YMCA in order to promote healthy eating and increased activity in hopes of preventing diabetes.

The event kicked off with Ellis arriving on the Washington On Wheels (W.O.W.) mobile health clinic that travels throughout the Tri-City area on a regular basis providing health care services to uninsured and underserved segments of the population. The W.O.W. mobile health clinic has been providing free diabetes screenings since 2005.

Garnero asked all the children to stand up and answer a series of yes or no questions related to their fast food eating habits, soda consumption, how much television they watched everyday and how often they exercised. If any of the children answered yes to eating junk food or drinking regular soda, they had to sit down. By the time Garnero asked her final question, only a few of the children were left standing.

"Diabetes has become an epidemic and bad eating habits and a lack of regular exercise are at the root of the problem," says Garnero. "Education on the dangers of obesity, a lack of exercise, and unhealthy diets can help inform kids that they are moving in the right direction."

The statistics are startling. According to Alameda County's most recent Community Needs Assessment - nearly one-third of our kids are overweight or obese. As obesity rates in children sore, more young people are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a disease that used to be associated only with adults 45 or older.

In order to show the children how easy it is to get tested for diabetes, Ellis received his first ever test for diabetes right in front of the kids. Connie Corral, a Washington Hospital employee who works with Washington On Wheels, administered a simple blood test on Ellis that took just a few seconds and gave him an answer right away. Ellis' diabetes test came out negative.

"I've had to educate myself about diabetes because I'm at risk. I've always been a little scared about getting tested," Ellis said. "I thought if I didn't know, it wouldn't hurt. There are ways to prevent it, though. The test didn't hurt at all."

To help educate children about the importance of exercise, Ellis talked about his own exercise routine and then put the kids through a series of stretches that he performs before each game. Ellis emphasized to the children that he exercised almost every day of the year.
"A lot of days, I don't feel like exercising, but I make it part of my daily routine," he said. "There are things to do to exercise when you aren't even aware of it. Running out to your position, that's exercise. Striking out and walking back to the dugout, that's exercise."
At the end of the program, each child received an A's backpack, cap and health education information from Washington Hospital. The A's also raffled off several Mark Ellis bobbleheads and Garnero gave away several copies of her own book titled, "DIABETease" - the book uses humorous illustrations and cartoons to promote diabetes education.
If you or someone you know is at risk of developing diabetes or has been diagnosed with diabetes, Washington Hospital's Diabetes Education Program can help. Washington's team of nurses and dietitians who are certified diabetes educators work with people individually and they also facilitate group discussions related to diabetes education and self management.
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Washington Hospital's Diabetes Program has moved to 1860 Mowry Ave., Suite 200, in Fremont. For more information about services and programs, please call (510) 745-6556. For detailed diabetes class and program listings, visit click on "Services & Programs," and select "Diabetes Services" from the drop-down menu.
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