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Stepping out to stop diabetes

Health: Friends, family and loved ones are walking to support those suffering from diabetes

Posted: September 30, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 30, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Several dozen walkers of the Oct. 15 American Diabetes Association Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes gather at Bridgeport Park in Valencia.

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Her son Grant is all grown up and miles away, yet Suzanne Miladin, of Valencia, never stops stepping out in his honor.

Miladin and hundreds of others will lace up their walking shoes Oct. 15 at Valencia’s Bridgeport Park for the American Diabetes Association’s “Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes.”

The annual event raises funds for the nonprofit organization, a leader in diabetes education, research, advocacy and resources.

“Grant was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 6, and I’ve walked ever since, so that makes it a good 13 years,” Miladin said. “The American Diabetes Association is devoted to finding a cure, and I’d do anything to find a cure for my son and others suffering from the same problems.”

Now 19, Grant Miladin is cheering his mother on from Vallejo, where he’s a student at the Cal Maritime Academy.

“I think it’s great that my mom and family and friends are doing something about diabetes. It’s encouraging to see that it’s not just my problem,” Grant Miladin said.

More than 25 million Americans suffer from Type 1 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. With Type 1 diabetes, the body stops producing insulin on its own and loses the ability to control sugar levels.

Without proper treatment, Type 1 diabetes can lead to a host of other serious health problems, including stroke, kidney failure, heart disease, blindness and amputation of limbs.

Since he was diagnosed with the disease, Grant Miladin has been insulin-dependent.

“I never let it slow me down. Since day 1, I was still doing everything a normal kid would do and then some. Any of my friends would consider me one of the most active out of them, whether I’m in Mammoth skiing or going dirt-bike riding,” he said.

However, diabetes did stand in the way of Grant Miladin’s long-time dream of flying for the military.

“With diabetes, it does affect your judgment. If you’re low (blood sugar), you act like a totally different person, if can affect your personality and your reactions. To be able to fly, you have to eliminate those swings,” he said.

Instead, Grant Miladin pursued entry into the Cal Maritime Academy, where he is learning the skills necessary to eventually pursue a career in the oil-tanker or container-ship industries.

Grant Miladin’s diabetes only became an issue recently when his insulin pump stopped working, landing him in the hospital for a few days and almost cost him a two-month trip to New Zealand with his school.

He became extremely vigilant about medication and diet, a strategy that allowed him to successfully complete the overseas journey this summer.

Suzanne Miladin wasn’t surprised that her son turned around a difficult situation.

“Diabetes has always spurred Grant on to try harder. I think kids can do anything they want with diabetes, they just have work harder to do it,” she said.

The same theory holds true for adults who are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes later in life.

Leslie Kreuzberger, a Valencia real estate broker, was 40 and had just given birth to her daughter Sydnee when she noticed her body was not acting as it had pre-pregnancy.

“I was peeing like crazy and then I couldn’t see,” she said. “I found out that I had Type 1I diabetes, which went on to Type 1. My pancreas stopped working, and I was put on an insulin pump.”

American Diabetes Association statistics state that gestational diabetes affects approximately 18 percent of pregnancies, while Type 2 diabetes, also known as pre-diabetes, affects up to 79 million Americans.

Type 1I diabetes can usually be controlled with lifestyle changes, such as a healthier diet and increased exercise, along with oral medications.

The adjustment to Type 1 diabetes has been difficult for Kreuzberger.

“It’s a daily struggle to eat right, exercise and balance my blood sugars,” she said. “Even when you’re on an insulin pump, you still have to program your cabs and determine that your basal levels are OK.”

Kreuzberger finds support and strength from daughter Sydnee, 13, a freshman at Valencia High School.

“Sydnee is my biggest advocate. She fundraises and has already raised more than $1,500 this year. Sydnee puts a team together with her school and she really is a big part of what I do,” Kreuzberger said proudly. “Something like 1-out-of-3 Americans gets diabetes and so many people don’t know they have it, so education is so important. So is advocacy, and of course, the cure.”

According to Lori Blumenthal, manager of the American Diabetes Association Santa Clarita Valley Step Out Walk, approximately 1,200 walkers are expected at this year’s event, up 200 participants from 2010.

Blumenthal will walk herself as part of Team Troy, dedicated to her son, who is now a sophomore at Valencia High School.

Troy Blumenthal was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 6.

“Our goal is $150,000,” she said. “Eighty cents of every dollar gets used for research, education, advocacy and local programs.”

There is no cost to register as a Step Out walker. Participants are asked to raise funds through donations from family, friends and business associates on behalf of the American Diabetes Association.

A continental breakfast will be provided for walkers and volunteers at 8 a.m., and the walk starts at 9 a.m.

Lunch from Albertsons and Outback Steakhouse will be on offer following the walk.

Miladin hopes to see the community come out in full force.

“Breast cancer has huge support, but when you look at the actual percentage of people affected, diabetes is way up there with heart disease,” she said.

The American Diabetes Association Step Out Walk for Diabetes will take place at Bridgeport Park, 23520 Bridgeport Lane, Saturday, Oct. 15.

Registration at 8 a.m., walk at 9 a.m., lunch at noon. For more information, contact Lori Blumenthal at (661) 295-0081.
Walkers can also register at http://main.diabetes.org/valencia.


msathe@the-signal.com

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