Driving home late one evening in the late 1980s on an Interstate Atlantans call ‘The Connector’, something caught my eye on an electronic sign atop West Paces Ferry hospital. I was surprised (and proud) that diabetes was in the bright lights. I took note of the meeting that was about diabetes and exercise.
I loved that someone was meeting to talk about diabetes and exercise. For more than two decades I had gone against the advise of some physicians to not exercise. And as the benefits of diabetes and exercise emerged, so did the challenges. Sometimes exercise didn’t always mix well with active insulin. Most of my attempts to figure these out were done by trial and error. So I was intrigued and interested in a group talking about diabetes and exercise.
IDAA = International Diabetic Athletic Association
“IDAA” was the title of the meeting and it stood for International Diabetic Athletic Association. Charlotte Hayes, a Certified Diabetes Educator at the hospital, chaired the meeting and said that she had met Paula Harper at a diabetes conference. In 1985, Paula founded IDAA in Phoenix because she felt that people living with diabetes needed an organization to support and share how exercise and diabetes worked (*)
The first Atlanta meeting was after work and a handful of people attended. I remember two CDEs and another type 1 named Bill. We met regularly and started the Atlanta chapter of IDAA. Charlotte did most of the legwork connecting us to the IDAA and we started with small informational meetings. My endocrinologist, David Jacobson, spoke to a small group of people that attended our first meeting.
“I Run On Insulin”
Paula also sent me a note of thanks along with an IDAA T-Shirt with the words, “I Run on Insulin” on the back. I found out later this was Paula’s tag line. I loved it and wore it proudly while running several Atlanta Peachtree 10k road races. Like Paula, I received supportive shout outs while running. I still have the shirt:
[ … insert pic of IDAA shirt …]
During our first year of the IDAA Atlanta chapter, I started graduate school while working full time. A lot of things took a back seat, including my time with the Atlanta IDAA. But I’m grateful for Paula Harper and Charlotte Hayes in starting the conversation about exercise and diabetes.