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Brenda Leavitt, founder of the Miranda Leavitt Diabetes Fund

INTERVALE — The Miranda Leavitt Diabetes Fund and the Conway Area Lions Club are hosting a Diabetes Awareness Event on Saturday, Nov. 16, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Miranda Diabetes Care Center, located at 3 N.H. Route 16 A in Intervale.

This free event will offer diabetes risk assessments, education on the link between diabetes and vision loss, blood glucose screening, blood pressure checks, plus information on diabetes prevention, nutrition advice and more.

Diabetes nurse practitioner Justine Fierman from the Miranda Diabetes Care Center and registered dietitian Brenda McKay from Memorial Hospital will be there to educate the community in the proper management of diabetes symptoms, and how many can decrease their risk in developing Type 2 Diabetes.

With November as National Diabetes Awareness Month, Conway Area Lions Club zone chair Linda Rafferty felt it was the right time to support an event around diabetes and vision loss.

The Conway Area Lions Club is a longtime supporter of the Miranda Leavitt Diabetes Fund and is known internationally for its work to improve health issues.

“We are tackling tough problems like blindness and drug abuse as well as diabetes awareness — and finding help and training for the deaf, disabled, underprivileged and the elderly. Whatever the community needs to make life better, we’re there to help,” Rafferty said.

Rafferty said the event fits well into the Lions’ mission and supports a service project she personally is spearheading in her zone, which includes Lions Clubs in Laconia/Guilford, Moultonboro, Wolfeboro, Wakefield, Whittier, Meredith and Conway area.

“I have chosen to spread diabetes awareness to all. This illness has affected some of my own family and friends and continues to strike many people. I was fortunate enough to meet with Brenda Leavitt and Justine Fierman from the Diabetes Care Center to work together on this project.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes causes eye problems and may lead to blindness. People with diabetes do have a higher risk of blindness than people without diabetes. However, with regular checkups, most people with diabetes can keep minor vision problems minor.

Diabetic retinopathy is a general term for all disorders of the retina caused by diabetes. Huge strides have been made in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. The sooner retinopathy is diagnosed, the more likely these treatments will be successful. The best results occur when sight is still normal. Several factors influence whether someone develops retinopathy:

• Blood sugar control.

• Blood pressure levels.

• How long you have had diabetes.

People who keep their blood sugar levels closer to normal are less likely to have retinopathy or to have milder forms. This is why the November 16 event will be offering free blood glucose screenings and providing risk assessment information for developing diabetes.

But high blood glucose levels are just one of the risk factors of developing diabetes.

Factors such as age, weight, smoking, gender, family history, high blood pressure, activity level and ethnicity can all be indicators that diabetes could develop. Awareness and prevention efforts, such as weight loss, healthier diet choices, managing blood pressure and quitting smoking can all reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and symptoms including vision loss.

Brenda Leavitt, founder of the Miranda Leavitt Diabetes Fund stated, “We are gearing up for National Diabetes Month and the Miranda Leavitt Diabetes Fund, along with Conway Area Lions, is sponsoring this diabetes awareness event together. This disease is growing in our state and community, so the Diabetes Fund is putting together a series of screening, and education classes to follow. We are so pleased for the support from the Conway Area Lions Club and thank them for working with us on this event.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the number of Americans with diabetes continues to rise, with over 12 percent of the adult population estimated to have the disease, and more than a third of those aged 20 and over in the U.S. now thought to have prediabetes.

The Miranda Leavitt Diabetes Fund was founded in 2009 with a mission to provide resources, education and awareness for people with diabetes in the Mt. Washington Valley community. Miranda Leavitt passed away from complications of Type 1 Diabetes in 2007, and her parents, Rich and Brenda Leavitt, have tirelessly sought to raise funds and provide outreach around diabetes care and prevention.

The event takes place in the new location of the Miranda Diabetes Care Center in Intervale, NH. It is located at the intersection of Routes 16 and 16A. It is the practice of certified diabetes educator and nurse practitioner Justine Fierman. Fierman specializes in intensive diabetes management, insulin pump therapy, diabetes technologies, diabetes in pregnancy and continuous glucose monitoring.

For information on the Miranda Fund, go to Facebook page “MLDFund. For more information on the Conway Area Lions, go to conwayarealions.org.

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