UF shines blue for diabetes

According to a new survey from the American Diabetes Association, many Americans lack basic knowledge about diabetes, a potentially life-threatening disease that is diagnosed every 20 seconds and responsible for more deaths each year in the United States than breast cancer and AIDS combined.

During November, the University of Florida will shine a “blue” spotlight on diabetes during Diabetes Awareness Month, which  Shannon Lyles, a registered nurse in the pediatric endocrinology department at UF, says is a very good idea.

“Diabetes is a disease that everyone seems to have misconceptions about, like only older people get diabetes and diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar,” said Lyles, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 16.  “Education and awareness are necessary to help people understand type 1 diabetes and why we need research to help find a cure.”

Lyles knows firsthand what her patients go through as they live with type 1 diabetes and how hard it can be for children to constantly check their blood sugar, count carbohydrates and take insulin shots. Her own experience as a teen coping with diabetes led her to her career path.

Shannon Lyles, a registered nurse in the pediatric endocrinology department at UF, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 16.

Shannon Lyles, a registered nurse in the pediatric endocrinology department at UF, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 16.

“I never looked back once I decided that I wanted to be a diabetes nurse,” she said. “My patients continually motivate me to find ways I can help them in their personal fight with diabetes.

“I hope people can begin to see that diabetes is a very important issue that needs attention,” Lyles said.

This year’s Diabetes Awareness Month kicks off next week at UF and in Gainesville with free diabetes screenings, a festival for children with diabetes and their families, a ceremony at which the Century Tower on the UF campus will be lit blue and even a chance to win airline tickets for two to anywhere Southwest Airlines flies.

Events are sponsored by the University of Florida Diabetes Center of Excellence, Health Gators 2012, the department of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine, pediatric endocrinology at UF, the Rotary Club of Gainesville, GatorWell and the College of Medicine.

Diabetes Awareness Month Activities

Free Blood Sugar Screenings
When: Tuesday, Nov. 10, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Reitz Union Colonade
Thursday, Nov. 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Shands at UF Atrium
Details: The UF Diabetes Center of Excellence encourages you to “Know Your Numbers.”All UF faculty, staff, students, and community members are encouraged to join us at one of these events for free blood sugar screening.

Type 1 Diabetes Screening
When: Friday, Nov. 13, 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Location: Children’s Medical Services – building A , 1701 S.W. 16th Ave.
Details: Free screenings will be offered for moms, dads, siblings, and cousins of people with type 1 diabetes.

Century Tower Lighting Ceremony
When: Friday, Nov. 13, 5:30 p.m.
Location: University of Florida campus
Details: Join Gainesville Mayor Pageen Hanrahan, Rep. Chuck Chestnut and the rest of the Gator Nation as we light the Century Tower in recognition of World Diabetes Day.

Fall Festival for Children with Diabetes and their Families
When: Saturday, Nov. 14, 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Location: Westside Park, 1001 N.W. 34th St.
Details: Meet and greet with families who live with diabetes while enjoying carnival games, arts and crafts and sports. Speak with medical professionals and directors of the Florida Diabetes Camp.

First Annual World Diabetes Day Walk
When: Saturday, Nov. 14
Location: Begins at the Kirby Smith Administration Building