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Steps to fighting diabetes includes the cha cha, salsa, y más

By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent

Diabetes Association of Greater Cleveland (DAGC) hosted its 25th annual fundraising dinner on Nov. 14, 2009 at Windows on the River, raising funds  that will continue to support its advocacy programs (estimated to be approximately $40,000).

Ciarra Nelson TV 20 Reporter with Cleveland Ballroom's Nichy Vegas

“We serve 8,000 patients every year,” said Helen Dumski, President and CEO of DAGC. The nonprofit provides essential services that range from diabetes testing, to education on prevention and management.

DAGC’s literature is also available in Spanish to increase awareness among Latinos, who are twice as likely than non-Latino whites, to be diagnosed with the illness.

Nearly 2.5 million Latinos in the U.S. suffer from Type 2 diabetes, according to National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that prevents the pancreases from producing insulin that helps move glucose through the blood stream. Common symptoms include: lack of energy, excessive thirst, blurred vision, headaches, numbness and tingling in the hand or feet, frequent urge to urinate, increased hunger, and unexplained weight loss.

“Some people give off a sweet odor,” said Angela Wilkes, Co-chair of the event. She was diagnosed 14 years ago with Type 2 diabetes, the most prevalent form.

Wilkes said knowledge is the most powerful defense against diabetes, which can lead to serious complications like kidney disease and failure. “The problem is in our culture and food,” Wilkes said, adding a balanced diet and exercise can prevent those at high risk from getting diabetes. She encourages everyone with family history, or any of the symptoms to get tested, “The earlier you catch it the better you can manage it.” 

Lifestyle changes can adequately control Type 2 Diabetes while Type 1 requires daily doses of insulin pills or injections and diet restrictions.

Marcia Moreno serves on the Board of Directors at DAGC and said the Latino community needs to be pro-active in raising awareness of the prevalent disease. “This is an important issue for us to know about and get involved in early to help diagnose and prevent this illness,” she said. Moreno said Latino health advocates need to utilize the resources provided by DAGC.

Kevin Joseph Kevin, Marcia Moreno and William Wymer

Dumski agreed; “Tell us what your needs are so we can better address them,” she said. Dumski said the organizations needs champions from the Latino community to foster better collaborations and achieve better results.

The evening honored DAGC directors and volunteers, but the main attraction was the dance competition. Cleveland’s hottest dancers paired with Cleveland’s sexiest singles, who showed off their moves for cha-cha, salsa, fox-trot, ballroom, and more.

The competition was inspired by ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and Wilkes said it is a great reminder that dancing is the best exercise. “It doesn’t feel like a workout but stills gets your body moving,” she said.

Rebecca Sweets, from Viva Dance, gathered six talented dancers from around Cleveland to teach the Cleveland Magazine’s six sexy singles various dance moves. The teams only had two months to prepare.

Moreno, one of the judges, was impressed by the progress each pair made in their chosen dance routine. She and fellow judges, Kevin Joseph Kevin and William Wymer, kept the competition stiff with careful marks.

The show ultimately came down to a tie between Nicole Burke and Heriberto Pérez’s sizzling performance of the cha-cha versus 19 Action News anchor Danielle Serino and Anderson Svlvestre’s sultry salsa.

“I want to thank the Hispanic community for the greatest gift they’ve given me—salsa,” said Serino, who praised DAGC’s work and congratulated them on a fantastic event. “For me, it isn’t about winning or losing but promoting a great case,” she said.

Not so for Burke; “I wanted to win,” she said. Burke surprised partner Pérez with video links from all her favorite Dancing with the Stars moves, and even chose a song. Which Pérez refused, “But we did use something similar to what she wanted,” he said. Burke even spent 16 hours beading her red costume to perfection.

Nicole Burke and Heriberto Perez, winners of the dance competition

Despite jubilant cheers from the 19 Action News crew, the judges declared Burke and Pérez the winners of the competition. The 320 guests also bid on silent auction items and had the chance to win $750 in the Chinese raffle.

Editor’s Note: According to Melinda Bilfield, co-chair of the event: “November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Diabetes is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. Health care and related costs are almost $200 billion annually. “Latino adults in the U.S. are diagnosed at almost twice the rate of non-Latino whites in the United States. For that reason I believe that this is a medical issue that needs to be discussed in the local Latino community.

“DAGC offers translated literature and educational programs to the Latino community. My husband, Murray Bilfield, an Immigration Attorney, and I have been working with in the Latino community for the past several years. “We want the most current information to get out to the community. This year I co-chaired this event—Promenade, Take Steps to Fight Diabetes. The money raised helps programming in the community. It is our goal to get information out to the Latino community and to get their support.

“If you missed the event this year please keep it in mind for next year. It is a fun way to support an important cause. For more information contact DAGC at www,dagc,org or call 216-591-0800.”

On the Internet: For more information on diabetes visit DGCA’s site: http://www.dagc.org
See also: https://laprensatoledo.com/Stories/2009/022709/Diabetes.htm
To see Nicole Burke and Heriberto Pérez dance, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzA7pRgG6No
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fx6Lj-0lWLE and

Helen Dumski, Angela Wilkes, Melinda Bilfield, Rebecca Sweets and Heriberto Perez from Viva Dance!

Mr. & Mrs. Bilfield

Nicole Burke and Heriberto Perez, winners of the dance competition

Cleveland Ballroom's Lisa Vegas with Michael Goulis Inedo

Angela Wilkes, and Melinda Bilfield





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