Drew swimmer teams with
Olympian to fight diabetes
A Drew swimmer who has Type 1 diabetes attracted one of sports’ best-known advocates of awareness of the disease to campus last weekend for a swim-a-thon that raised nearly $10,000 for diabetes research.
Ranger swimmer Dan Sorenson invited 10-time Olympic medalist Gary Hall Jr., also a Type 1 diabetic, to lead a clinic during Drew’s second World Diabetes Day Swim-A-Thon – a nationally unique event organized by Sorenson that had raised $300 during its first year. Participants and donors pledge funds by the lap or donate a lump sum during the swim-a-thon.
Hall’s two-hour clinic involved approximately 30 children aged 8 to 18, including several who have Type 1 diabetes, or are unable to naturally produce insulin.
“Opportunities to work directly with other people – especially kids who have the disease or who are at risk of getting it – inspires me, and it’s my way of giving back to this growing community,” Hall said before the event at Drew’s Kirby Pool.
Most proceeds from the event were donated to the Gary Hall Jr. Foundation for Diabetes, with some proceeds going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Morristown (New Jersey) Memorial Hospital.
The swim-a-thon is one of 128 events in the United States listed on the World Diabetes Day Web site to benefit the global initiative by the International Diabetes Foundation and World Health Organization to create greater awareness of the disease.
Sorenson, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2002, is a senior this season at Drew.
“It’s something you can’t really ignore; you’re constantly aware you have this disease,” Sorenson told the Morris County Daily Record during the event. “But I don’t want it to control my life and let it define who I am.”
That basically also was Hall’s message during the clinic. Hall told the participating children and their parents it is possible to live with diabetes and still pursue dreams. He cited his own experience as a 1996 Olympic gold medalist who, after being diagnosed with diabetes in 1999, won two more gold medals along with a silver medal and bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics, then qualified again for the 2004 Games.
Hall announced his retirement from competitive swimming this month after posting the second-fastest time of his career in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2008 Olympic Trials but finishing fourth. He said he wants to devote more time to his diabetes foundation.
“I think my assets are better appreciated and more needed in diabetes than they are in the pool,” he told The Associated Press.
© 2010 The National Collegiate Athletic Association