Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
June 17, 2000 - Issue 12

Runner Raises Money for Diabetes Association

TAHLEQUAH - While many of us are planning on taking it easy this summer, enjoying the weather or puttering in the garden, long-time Cherokee Nation employee Marilyn Kelley has her sights set on a different kind of summer activity. She plans to be in Kona, Hawaii, with 1100 other runners and walkers on June 25, 2000, to run a half-marathon with Team Diabetes, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association. The Tahlequah native agrees that she has set a tough goal for herself, but said she sees it as merely "walking the talk."

Kelley, a registered dietitian who has been with Cherokee Nation for more than thirteen years, has been doing direct patient care for the past year and a half at the tribe's Sallisaw and Muskogee health care clinics. "Everyday I ask patients to eat right, exercise and stick their finger to monitor their blood sugar, while I have the luxury of going home and not thinking of diabetes until tomorrow," she says. On the other hand, Kelley said that her patients who are diabetics never get a break, and the disease is never far from their thoughts.

The American Diabetes Association has invested more than $100 million in research to date. It is estimated that diabetes affects one out of every 20 people in the United States. Kelley noted that diabetes statistics for Native Americans are much higher than the general population, and affect them at a much younger age. Her goal is to raise $4,000 for diabetes research and educational programs. She added that the cost of the trip is coming from her own pocket, and none of the money raised through donations will go towards trip expenses. So far, Kelley said that she has raised more than $1500.

"I am dedicating this half-marathon to those in my family, co-workers, friends and patients who have become my friends this year, who struggle with diabetes every day," Kelley said. As she trains and runs she will be carrying with her the names of friends and loved ones with diabetes whom people have asked her to honor. She will be training throughout June, and said that if people see her out on the track or road, feel free to honk and wave. Words of encouragement are also welcome, she said.

For more information, or to make a donation or honor request, contact Kelley through the Cherokee Nation Health Division, (918) 456-0671 Ext. 2657 or 458-4373.

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