GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When Krisha Gupta was 17 years old, she felt weak, tired and thirsty. One day, Gupta, who rarely left school early, called her mom to come pick her up — she was too weak. Her pediatrician found that Gupta’s blood sugar level was dangerously high at 515 and she was sent to the hospital where she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
“It’s a chronic disease. We have to keep taking insulin for the rest of our lives,” said Gupta, now 21 and the president of the University of Florida’s College Diabetes Network. “It’s really tough because it’s something you’re going to have for the rest of your life, so having a community that knows exactly what you’re going through is really important.”
The College Diabetes Network, an organization started for students with Type 1 diabetes, is helping to organize one of the main events called the Hey, Neighbor! Carnival at Magnolia Parke on Nov. 18 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event will feature games, live music, food trucks and more.
Other events, such as glucose screenings, seminars and community classes, organized by the UF Diabetes Institute will take place throughout November.
One of the most important events is World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14. Ronny Bell, Ph.D., a professor and chair of the department of public health at East Carolina University, will be the keynote speaker at the event, which will be held at the HPNP Auditorium.
“We strongly believe these initiatives will have a significant impact in the local Gainesville community and in supporting national and international programs centered around diabetes research, education and clinical care,” said Mauren Piucco, assistant director of the institute.
This year’s awareness month theme, set by the International Diabetes Federation, is Family and Diabetes.
“Diabetes has a tremendous impact not just on the individual but the entire family,” Piucco said. “We will host a number of events that will allow participants to connect with one another and learn about local resources available within their community.”
The institute added several new initiatives to the schedule compared to previous years and hopes to draw more people and families to events over the course of the month.
“Raising diabetes awareness can impact the lives of many,” Piucco said.
Over 30 million Americans have diabetes, and 84 million Americans have prediabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. The disease is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here are events scheduled by the UF Diabetes Institute as part of Diabetes Awareness Month:
- Diabetes Awareness event, 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Bo Diddley Plaza, 111 E. University Ave., Gainesville. The event, held in collaboration with the Right Care Alliance, will feature vendors, educational displays, glucose screenings and entertainment.
- Community Diabetes Class, 5 p.m. Nov. 8 at UF Health HealthStreet, 2401 SW Archer Road, Gainesville. The event will feature Ryan Sanders, R.D., quality coordinator and diabetes educator for UF Health Diabetes Education and Nutrition. There will be educational displays and refreshments.
- Glucose Screening, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 14, HPNP Courtyard on the UF campus.
- World Diabetes Day, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at the HPNP Auditorium on the UF campus. The keynote speaker will be Ronny Bell, Ph.D., of East Carolina University. Refreshments will be provided and there will be video testimonials and opening remarks by Desmond Schatz, M.D., medical director of the UF Diabetes Institute.
- UFDI Hey Neighbor! Carnival, 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 18 at Magnolia Parke on Northwest 39th Avenue, Gainesville. The event, held in collaboration with One Love Cafe and Taste, will feature games, face painting, food trucks, music, glucose screenings, diabetes education and vendors.
- Tour de Cure/ADA, all day Dec. 1 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine. Members of the College Diabetes Network team will attend, sponsored by the UFDI.