In this season of giving, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation has donated $40,000 to help fight a deadly disease—diabetes—that afflicts more than 350 million people worldwide and is prevalent among American Indians and Alaska Natives.
The nation held a special event on November 27 when checks of $20,000 were presented to representatives of the American Diabetes Association and the Joslin Diabetes Center and it’s local affiliate, the Lawrence + Memorial Hospital of New London.
This year marks the MPTN’s seventh annual Drive for Diabetes, the fourth year that funds have been donated to the American Diabetes Association and the third year that the Joslin Diabetes Center has been a recipient of funds. The annual event was co-founded and co-chaired by MPTN chairman Rodney Butler and Mashantucket citizen Richard E. Sebastian. “The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation is proud to support the American Diabetes Association and Joslin Diabetes Center in our efforts to raise awareness and educate the general public about diabetes and the affect it has on many Americans,” Butler and Sebastian said in a press release. “Diabetes is a disease that affects Native Americans at a rate twice that of any other ethnicity. The proceeds raised will help establish programs, teach healthy living, and provide educational material and more.”
According to the National Diabetes Education Program, diabetes is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. Total health care and related costs for the treatment of diabetes run about $174 billion annually. Indigenous peoples are hard hit by the disease. About 16.1 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives ages 20 years and older who are served by the Indian Health Service have diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes rates vary among Alaska Natives (5.5 percent) to American Indians in southern Arizona (33.5 %). Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for people with diabetes – about two out of three people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke. Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about two to four times higher than adults without diabetes and the risk for stroke is two to four times higher among people with diabetes. The government web site suggests that people with diabetes can manage their disease by eating healthy foods, being physically active, taking diabetes medicine as prescribed and testing blood glucose levels. Community education and support programs, such as the programs supported by the MPTN, can help people with diabetes and their families to manage the disease.
The funds for this year’s Drive for Diabetes were raised in September at a golf tournament held at the tribe’s award-winning golf course, Lake of Isles.