NEW YORK, April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Bob Scheidt -- athlete, father, house-painter, activist and a man living with Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes -- begins the last leg of his walk across America this week, stopping at towns large and small, as well as all the Indian reservations in his path, to raise awareness of diabetes, a disease that kills one person every three minutes. Scheidt's message -- that one can achieve one's dreams in spite of the disease -- is inspiring. "I am a warrior in the fight against diabetes," Scheidt recently told his audience of mostly native Americans, "and this walking stick is my spear. I will walk across this great nation to prove that you don't have to surrender your hopes and dreams if you are diagnosed with diabetes." "We at MiniMed are very proud to be helping sponsor Bob Scheidt's Walk Across America," said Al Mann, founder of the company that manufactures Scheidt's insulin pump. "He is bringing into the public perception the challenges of a disease that are so often misunderstood. It is true that with the right attitude, along with the advancements afforded by medical technology, people with diabetes can not only strive after, but also achieve their dreams." Scheidt began his walk in 1997, starting from Seattle and taking the winters off to work and avoid bad weather. He is scheduled to reach the Atlantic Ocean on Memorial Day, May 31 of this year, where Miss America 1999, Nicole Johnson, who also is living with Type 1 diabetes and wears an insulin pump, will meet him for the historic finish. Scheidt's athletic accomplishments are impressive even for someone in perfect health. A long-distance race walker, he has walked and run a total of 55,000 miles, enough to circle the globe twice. He has been able to attain these personal goals in spite of being diagnosed early on with a chronic illness. When Scheidt was diagnosed at age 17 with Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes, doctors told him to give up his dreams of being an athlete, as well as any thoughts of an active lifestyle. "I was told that I couldn't run anymore, I couldn't backpack, and that I should just sit back and take it easy ... I decided early I wasn't going to let it slow me down." Like Miss America, Scheidt chose to treat his diabetes with a "MiniMed," an insulin pump that replaces the four to six shots a day he used previously. The device is manufactured by a California-based company, MiniMed, Inc., that has as its goal the development of an entirely automatic, artificial pancreas. Now, instead of stopping every few hours for a shot, Scheidt has a steady supply of insulin delivered around the clock. Scheidt does have to test his blood sugar at least four times a day, but finger sticks are much easier and less painful than injections. Instead of "taking it easy," Scheidt's regime has made possible 50-mile "ultra marathons," as well as walking across his home state of Pennsylvania -- twice -- to raise money for diabetes. He has also walked across Virginia and West Virginia for the same purpose. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in America, and the leading cause of blindness, amputations, and kidney failure. Approximately 16 million Americans have the disease. MiniMed, the maker of the insulin pump, is helping to sponsor Scheidt's walk and his schedule of events can be found on their website at http://www.minimed.com/files/mml06.htm Scheidt is available for speaking engagements along the route of his walk. If you'd like him to speak to your school, club or group, contact DeNetta Elmo, (800) 933-3322. Media interested in interviewing Bob should call Lisa Warden, (800) 600-7111 x 236. Mr. Scheidt will be visiting the following cities on the following days during the last leg of his walk: Date City Wednesday, April 21 Ann Arbor, MI Friday, April 23 Toledo, OH Friday, April 30 Cleveland, OH Monday, May 3 Youngstown, OH Wednesday, May 12 Altoona, PA Friday, May 14 State College, PA Saturday, May 22 Kutztown, PA Tuesday, May 25 Delaware Canal Towpath. Washington Crossing State Park Thursday, May 27 Chatsworth, NJ Saturday, May 29 Pamona, NJ Monday, May 31 Atlantic City, NJ
SOURCE MiniMed, Inc.