On Saturday morning the Newville Lions Club hosted a diabetes walk to raise awareness for the medical condition. The event was part of the Newville Lions Club Fair, an annual festival that ran from Wednesday through Saturday night.
On Friday night, hundreds came out for the fireworks show.
Diabetes has recently become an area of focus for the Lions Club internationally because of the high numbers of people who have been diagnosed with it.
A 2017 study published by the Center for Disease Control found that, as of 2015, 30.3 million Americans — 9.4 percent of the U.S. population — have diabetes. Another 84.1 million have pre-diabetes, a condition that if not treated often leads to type 2 diabetes within five years
Rick Striker sat at the fairground’s picnic tables Saturday and discussed his Type 2 diabetes. His daughter, Hailee, participated in the walk. Striker was diagnosed in 2015, at age 55. The following year he had a heart attack and had to have open surgery.
Striker says that surgery brought him to an uncomfortable awareness of how mortal he is. “They slice you open, they break apart your ribs… and they take your heart out of your body,” Striker said. “Who wants to go through that?”
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His life has changed a lot since the diagnoses. He’s retired from trucking, his lifelong profession, and now has to pay attention to labels and keep an eye out for hidden sugars and sodium, which can affect blood sugar levels.
When he was young, I “wasn’t concentrating on anything to do with what I was eating,” said Striker. “I would pick up hamburgers and literally the grease would run off of it.”
“You [young people] have a choice,” Striker said. He hopes people can learn from his experiences and pay more attention to what they eat.
For the diabetes walk, a half mile loop had been traced in white chalk around the fairgrounds. One of the walkers was the organizer, Dan Bant. Bant had the idea for a walk to raise awareness because exercise can help to prevent diabetes.
Bant served as president of the Lions club for 35 years and worked with the current president, Duane Wert, to organize the walk.
Alongside the diabetes walk a blood drive was held for Justin Barrick, a Carlisle resident with aplastic anemia who needs frequent blood transfusions. And members of Central Pa Ghostbusters, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about autism, arrived in a ghostbuster car wearing a set of convincing costumes. The few kids that were there took photos with them.