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Walking 5,000-Plus Miles to Raise Awareness and Reverse Diabetes

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American Indians and health advocates woke up this morning for a peace pipe ceremony in La Jolla, California. Then they stretched their muscles for a long walk ahead.

Their trek on the Longest Walk 3 Reversing Diabetes begins with stops at Indian Reservations throughout Southern California, including many near San Diego, such as the Kumeyaay, Luiseno, Cahuilla, Coupa and Chemevi nations, reported La Jolla Light. Some will embark on a 15- to 25-mile daily walk, or 50- to 100-mile run in relay teams, completing their journey in another city on the 5,000-plus-mile route. Others will continue the five-month-long marathon, merging with other diabetes advocates across either the southern or northern states, respectively, to their final destination: Washington D.C., on July 8, 2011. The Northern Route of the Longest Walk 3 Reversing Diabetes supposedly begins in Portland, Oregon, and ends in Washington D.C. on the same dates as the southern route, lead by Navajo tribal member Chris Francisco, according to Earthborn Productions.

The Longest Walk 3 Reversing Diabetes aims to bring awareness to the chronic disease through educating adults and children on how diet and exercise can play a vital role in reversing diabetes. They hope their annual mission, led by 75-year-old Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement, which lead the first “The Longest Walk” in 1978 and “The Longest Walk 2” in 2008, will inspire and benefit the health and well being of future generations, according to a press release. Banks was once hospitalized due to serious diabetes complications. He has reversed the disease as a result of a transformative diet and exercise program.

"Diabetes is one of the most critical health issues facing Native Americans today," said Bobby Wallace, an event organizer and member of the Barona Band of Mission Indians. "Our feet will likely be aching at the end of this walk but every step we take will bring us one step closer to eradicating diabetes among our fellow tribal members and others afflicted with the disease."

Many tribes, like Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians in mid-southern California, will host information sessions in conjunction with the walk. The Pauma will feature a health fair sponsored by Indian Health Services, providing information on diabetes screening and risk factors, along with: physical activity and nutrition, suicide and depression awareness, tobacco awareness, acupuncture, and teen pregnancy prevention, according to a Pauma press release.

"Raising awareness of the growing rate of diabetes among American Indians is an important step toward reversing the effects it has on the American Indian community," said Pauma Tribal member Yolanda Espinoza, who is helping coordinate the event on behalf of Pauma. "Since our Tribe is dedicated to promoting healthy living and wellness awareness, we're honored to be a part of the fight against this chronic disease."

For more information about the "Longest Walk 3 Reversing Diabetes," visit or sign up here: