By Melissa Brady, Staff Writer
The University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) recently held the first-annual Diabetes Walk ‘n’ Talk. The goals of the event were to raise funds to help those who suffer from diabetes and to promote awareness for the growing health concern.
The event was organized by community health major Mike Colella. As apart of his internship he collaborated with, Nancy Thomas of the Healthy Community Coalition of the Greater Franklin County (HCC), the UMF Health Club, radio station 93.5/107.5, local businesses and community members. It took a lot of effort and coordination to bring everything together including getting permission from the Americans with Diabetes Act (ADA). With the help of all of these groups and his wife Becky Colella he was able to put on the largest ADA event in the state of Maine.
Colella isn’t just an advocate for diabetes, he also suffers from Type 1 diabetes himself. Being diagnosed with diabetes three years ago inspired him to make a serious lifestyle change. “I used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, four to six 2 liter bottles of soda a week, ate fast food four to five times a week, and I hardly ever exercised,” said Colella. “Now, I exercise everyday, I don’t drink soda, don’t eat fast food hardly, and I quit smoking cold turkey.”
Deputy Chief Shane Cote of the Farmington Police Department attended the walk to show his support for an issue that has affected him personally. “I was diagnosed with diabetes last June and am not currently on medication because I changed my lifestyle,” said Cote. “I also went to Mike’s boot-camp class that literally kicked my butt into shape.” Many of Cote’s family members also live with diabetes, he went to support them as well. “It’s a great cause to support especially when you have it,” added Cote.
Tricia Robinson the Personal Training and Group Fitness Coordinator at the UMF Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC) also attended the event to show her support for Colella. “I’ve known Michael [Colella], for three years and he is putting on a great event for a great cause,” said Robinson. She also taught a kickboxing class at the event to show that exercising can be fun. “It’s a great way to work out your whole body and have a fun time,” said Robinson.
By the end of the day the event raised approximately three-thousand dollars. Nine teams registered for the ADA. Thirty-percent of t-shirt sales also went back to the foundation. As a part of the event, registered teams and other attendees walked a mile around the town of Farmington to demonstrate their support for those who have diabetes. The walked also served as a time to remember those who have lost their battle with the disease.
The event was successful in raising funds and awareness for an important issue. Colella hopes that the event can grow in the future “It’s a learning curve,” said Colella. “Next year will be bigger and better. It’s only the first year.”