Running for a Cause

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On the morning of Dec. 11, families, friends, and event supporters will meet up at Town Lake at Firemen’s Park in McAllen for the Dasher & Prancer 5K run/walk hosted by Lacks and the Rio Grande Valley Diabetes Association. 

The runners (Dashers) and walkers (Prancers) will start their journey at 8 a.m. sharp onto the path volunteers put together. Attendees at the 5K run/walk share multiple interests — the fun for competitions and diabetes awareness.

Lacks raises diabetes awareness beyond its 5K run/walk. The company’s ownership, the Aaronson family, are strong supporters of diabetes awareness and have donated to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s efforts. One initiative supported by the Aaronsons was a program geared towards educating second-grade children about the disease while promoting a healthier diet.

The upcoming event is in collaboration with the Rio Grande Valley Diabetes Association. The RGVDA works on diabetes prevention and spreading awareness throughout the communities it serves. Several RGV doctors saw the need for increased diabetes awareness in their community, leading to establishing the organization. Similar to Lacks, the RGVDA has held 5K events in the past. The San Benito Newspaper reported that the organization’s 2014 “Walk-Run-Zumba” raised over $11,000.

“The RGVDA [is] a nice organization, somewhere to go when you’re not sure what to do when you have diabetes, if you need a glucose monitor, [or] need to check your sugar,” said Susan Fath El-Dem, the secretary for the RGVDA’s executive board. “If you want to talk to the doctor, he’s right [next door].”

Lacks has been supporting the RGVDA for five years, according to Fath El-Dem. This year, both organizers want to make the event bigger and better. The annual Dasher & Prancer 5K run/walk acts as a fundraiser for the RGVDA. Funds from the event will help the RGVDA provide services such as its educational cooking class. Each recipe made is crafted for people living with diabetes or have heart issues, among other challenges. The RGVDA posts the cooking class recordings on its Facebook page.

“We want to make sure that our community and everybody around us stays safe, and they’re able to deal with their diabetes,” Fath El-Dem said.

Lacks has seen diabetes affect its employees as a large percentage of them are Hispanic, a group likely to get the lifelong disease. That motivated the company to host an annual 5K run/walk to promote a healthier lifestyle. On average, Hispanics are 17% likely to get Type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Type 2 diabetes can be passed down family lines, according to the American Diabetes Association.

“Diabetes is something that not only affects our outer community but our inner community, as well,” said Kris Karr, director of communications for Lacks. “The 5K is an event that helps bring awareness of the disease and promotes a healthy lifestyle to all who participate.”

The Dasher & Prancer event also promotes holiday cheer and draws around 200 people each year. The festive participants wearing reindeer costumes are Karr’s favorite thing about the 5K run/walk.

“For me personally, it’s the support I get from my family and friends that makes it even more special,” Karr said. “This year, because we are joining forces with the RGVDA, we expect our event to be huge. Our goal is to make it a great experience for everyone who is involved.”

There is another way to participate in the event without strapping on running shoes. With the hundreds of people at the event to manage, Lacks offers a lot of volunteer opportunities. UTRGV has volunteered in the past, according to Linda Morales, Lacks PR/community manager. For more information about volunteering, email Morales at linda.morales@lacksvalley.com.

“We always need volunteers to help us set up in the morning, at cheering stations throughout the route, giving out medals, passing out bottles of water and goodie bags,” she said. “Registration in the mornings can be hectic when people show up at once. We encourage everyone to register early.”

Organizing the upcoming event is happening earlier than ever. Leading up to the event, Lacks and RGVDA representatives are working together to reach out to vendors and business partners for support.

“We are planning for an awesome event, and we hope to see lots of Dashers and Prancers out there,” Karr said.

To register for the event, you can scan the QR code below or visit the Lacks website. You can also register onsite at 7 a.m. on the day of the event.

Steven Hughes