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Four Rivers Walk to benefit diabetes research

By Leanne Fuller lfuller@paducahsun.com

The sixth annual Four Rivers Walk to Cure Diabetes will be held Saturday at Noble Park in Paducah, and organizers are hopeful that 2014 will be a banner year for the fundraiser.

Tom and Ashley Shadoan began the walk with about 10 families in a support group the couple joined after their son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes because, Tom Shadoan said, "We wanted to do more to help find a cure."

The walk's proceeds go to JDRF - a nonprofit organization that funds Type 1 diabetes research, formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The fundraising goal each year has been $100,000, a goal yet to be met.

The 2013 walk came close, however, raising a total of $95,000 - more than any other year so far - and Shadoan said he and other walk organizers are hopeful the goal will be met this year. But even if that doesn't happen, he said 2014 will be a significant year for the walk. "We're going to go over $500,000 total since it started six years ago," Shadoan explained. "It's kind of a milestone for us, so even if we don't hit $100,000 we'll have done that."

Free registration for this year's walk will begin at 10:30 a.m., and the walk will begin at 11:30 a.m. The event also includes entertainment, activities for children, diabetes education and awareness booths, and light snacks and drinks donated by local businesses for participants.

Shadoan said organizers generally ask - but don't require - each participant to raise $100, which he said can be done by asking 10 friends to each raise $10.

The organizer said the walk is open to everyone who wants to participate and sees regular attendance from about 25 teams of walkers from local businesses, schools and families.

"It's kind of a rainbow walking around Noble Park because all the teams wear different colored shirts," Shadoan said. He said many folks at the walk participate to show support for family members and friends who have diabetes, and that there are newly diagnosed children and adults in the community each year.

"It's kind of a way to get the community together to support these people who are going through it," Shadoan said.

The 2014 walk will also honor a Paducah woman who passed away in April: 27-year-old Carly Marquess, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 13. Shadoan said Marquess had planned to speak about her experience with diabetes at the walk. Now her father, Dr. Carl Marquess, will speak at the event, and organizers will honor her family.

"We're going to honor her memory and say a few things about her at the walk, in keeping with the celebration of the day," Shadoan explained.

And there is plenty of cause for celebration for those who raise funds for Type 1 diabetes research. Shadoan said the developments from diabetes research he's seen in the seven years since his son was diagnosed are "amazing." He said there have been advances in the technology used to treat diabetes, the development of faster-acting and longer-acting insulin therapy and the promising development of an artificial pancreas set to go through larger clinical trials in the near future. "It gets better every year," Shadoan said. "There's a lot of advancements that we can see."

For more information about the Four Rivers Walk to Cure Diabetes, call 270-331-3130 or email tomshadoan@gedky.com.

Contact Leanne Fuller, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.

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