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Health Team

Bike ride to raise awareness of diabetes

Posted June 4, 2010 5:01 p.m. EDT
Updated June 4, 2010 7:35 p.m. EDT

— A local woman diagnosed with Type II diabetes is sharing her journey to better health in an effort to help others like her suffering from the disease.

Marci Williams is participating this weekend in the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure, a two-day bicycling event to help raise awareness and money for diabetes research.

Since 2002, more than 1 million new cases have been diagnosed each year in the United States. About 5.7 million Americans have diabetes but don't know it.

Five years ago, Williams was one of them.

At a routine physical exam, blood work revealed that she had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type II diabetes.

"I really should have known better, given that my mother was a Type II diabetic," Williams said.

She was 45 years old and weighed 323 pounds at the time. Her doctor offered her a stern warning to lose weight or not live to see age 50.

So Williams started on a diet plan and exercise program that included daily walking.

"Pretty soon, five minutes of walking turned into 10, then 15 and then turned into 30 minutes," Williams said.

And the walking turned into cycling to and from work. She then tried a yoga class.

"I was hooked, absolutely hooked," Williams said.

After losing more than 180 pounds, she's off insulin and only on one oral medication. Williams says she's committed to never returning to her old ways.

"This is a lifetime lifestyle commitment to keep the diabetes in control," she said.

Last year was her first time in the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure.

"That was a very, very personally gratifying moment for myself," Williams said. "I wasn't the fastest. I didn't finish first, but I did it, and that's what was important to me."

Now, she's not satisfied with just participating. Williams hopes her story will inspire others with diabetes, or at risk of it, to reduce their risk of the life-threatening complications with diet and exercise.

"If I can do it at 45, when I was diagnosed, anyone can do it," she said.

The Tour de Cure starts in Cary at 8 a.m. Saturday at Koka Booth Amphitheatre at Regency Park and ends in Southern Pines. Registration for the event is still open.