Four years ago, UF became the first university in the nation to hold a lighting ceremony in recognition of World Diabetes Day and Diabetes Awareness Month. Since then, the UF Diabetes Center of Excellence has hosted the ceremony and other events annually to raise awareness and educate the public about the impact of diabetes.
On Nov. 18., Century Tower at UF glowed blue once again, surrounded by students, faculty, staff and community members. Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe read the city’s proclamation at the beginning of the ceremony to recognize World Diabetes Day.
According to the American Diabetes Association, there are almost 26 million Americans who have diabetes. In adults, type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
“Type 2 diabetes is directly related to lifestyle and can be prevented and fixed,” said Kathryn Parker, director of diabetes self-management education program at UF’s Diabetes Center. “The UF Diabetes Center of Excellence’s goal is to educate the public and help them make correct choices in their lives.”
Kenneth Cusi, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.E., new chief of the department of medicine’s division of endocrinology, diabetes & metabolism, said he came to UF from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio because he could sense the commitment from UF’s leadership to provide solutions to the diabetes pandemic.
“It’s very important that UF is at the forefront of the diabetes battle,” Cusi said. “We are the ones who are going to make a difference, and to do that, awareness level is key.”
Following Cusi’s remarks, Desmond Schatz, M.D., medical director of the UF Diabetes Center of Excellence and associate chairman of pediatrics at the UF College of Medicine, addressed the need for the community to take part in the fight against diabetes.
“There are three things we need in order to ultimately reach the cure,” Schatz said. “Awareness, proactive approach and research.”
Schatz challenged everyone to “do something about diabetes now” and get involved in advocacies.
At the end of the ceremony, the crowd looked up at the blue Century Tower and blew bubbles as a sign of hope for diabetes patients.
“The lighting of the tower is a commitment that symbolizes the continuous role of UF toward improving lives of the people afflicted with diabetes,” Schatz said. “It symbolizes vigorous and enthusiastic hope, which will lead to preventing, reducing and curing the disease.”