According to the American Diabetes Association, 30.3 million Americans — 9.4 percent of the population — had been diagnosed with diabetes as of 2015. As obesity rates continue to rise all across the country, the need for diabetic resources and education is at an all-time high. While resources right here in Delaware are minimal, the Delaware County Diabetes Association (DCDA) is doing its best to help the community.

The DCDA began in 1982 under the leadership of Dr. David Smith. Dr. Jane Graebner took over for Barb Wolfe as the president of the association in 2015 after Wolfe ran the organization since 2003. Graebner is a podiatrist who owns the Foot and Ankle Wellness Center located in Delaware on West William Street. She laughs as she recalls how and why she took over for Wolfe, who called Graebner on a promise she made to step into the role when Wolfe was finished. Graebner also said that as she nears retirement, she needed something to keep her busy.

But Graebner’s passion and motivation for operating, and in a lot of ways jumpstarting the program, run much deeper than a promise kept or a way to fill her days. Her grandparents, father, and aunt were all diabetic. Knowing diabetes was a very real possibility for her future, Graebner had gastric bypass surgery in 2010 and has been able to keep off 95 pounds, which she believes is the only reason she isn’t battling the disease herself.

While she acknowledged the efforts to treat the disease better, she is aware that the disease is still “running rampant,” which served as her call to arms, so to speak.

Graebner said the thing she is most proud of is having been awarded a grant from the Delaware County Foundation for the past three years. Last year, they were awarded $2,000. The DCDA uses the money to give financial donations to people in need, for items such as medications, glucometers and testing strips. She hopes they will be able to include custom insoles and diabetic shoes as well. The DCDA works alongside People In Need, Inc. of Delaware County, which determines where the biggest needs exist, and the DCDA provides the monetary support.

In addition to providing people with critical medical resources, the DCDA also pays two-thirds of the scholarships for children to attend Camp Hamwi, a summer camp for diabetic kids ages 3-17. Camp Hamwi is located at Camp Mohaven in Danville, and the camp celebrated 50 years of serving Ohio’s diabetic youth last year. The camp is held in late July and still has available openings.

Although she refers to the association as “Delaware’s best-kept secret,” Graebner hopes she can garner more attention for such an important resource for many people in the county. One of the ways she hopes to generate more exposure is through a membership program with the association. She suggested a potential $25 membership fee and mentioned possibly adding certain restaurant discounts to the membership to encourage people to sign up.

Another way Graebner hopes to generate more financial support in the future is through the Kroger Community Rewards program. Through the program, shoppers can link their Kroger plus card to particular community organizations and those organizations receive rewards in the form of donations based on your grocery bill. Graebner speculated that most shoppers at Kroger aren’t aware they can link their cards to local charities and organizations, and she pointed out that doing so doesn’t cost the shopper in any way.

Perhaps the association’s biggest source of exposure to date is the Pumpkin Run 5k and Sweet Feat 5k walk it teams up with the City of Delaware and the YMCA to host each year at Mingo Park. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 27. Graebner feels walking is a key combatant to the number one cause of diabetes.

“I strongly believe that walking is America’s cure for obesity and mental health,” Graebner said. “Walking is an exercise everyone can do. And should do.”

The walk and run benefits the YMCA’s “Healthy Weight and Your Child” program, a program where children and their families are selected to receive YMCA memberships and a yearlong nutrition and physical activity education.

Moving forward, Graebner hopes to be able to start some type of diabetic support group, saying, “I really believe in strength in numbers.” To her knowledge, there are no remaining support groups for those with diabetes in Delaware County.

“Diabetes is like cancer, it’s everywhere,” Graebner said. Everyone knows someone who deals with it. In any small way, even if it’s just signing up with your Kroger plus card, you can contribute without hardly doing anything. Come walk our walk or give out pamphlets at the county fair. Something simple. There are a lot of ways to support our organization without taking a lot of their time and not taking any of their money.”

Anyone who is interested in serving or learning more about the DCDA can call the Foot and Ankle Wellness Center at 740-363-4373.

Dr. Jane E. Graebner (standing, second from right) and the DCDA board pose for a photo with last year’s Camp Hamwi recipients, Makenzie Levings (sitting, far left) and Gavin Keller (sitting, middle). The DCDA pays for two-thirds of the campers’ registration to the camp for diabetic youth. Jane E. Graebner (standing, second from right) and the DCDA board pose for a photo with last year’s Camp Hamwi recipients, Makenzie Levings (sitting, far left) and Gavin Keller (sitting, middle). The DCDA pays for two-thirds of the campers’ registration to the camp for diabetic youth. Courtesy photo
DCDA hoping to gain support

By Dillon Davis

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Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @ddavis_gazette.