Sunday, 05 November 2017 16:43

Penobscot Nation run raises money to prevent diabetes, promote wellness Featured

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INDIAN ISLAND - The 9th Annual Ralph K. Thomas 8K race brought dozens of runners to Indian Island Sunday morning.

The run raises both money and awareness to help prevent a disease affecting American Indians across the country, including here in Maine.

For nearly a decade, runners on Indian Island have been racing in honor of Ralph Thomas.

"It was a race spurred out of the idea of honoring a Penobscot tribal member who's still around," said Bob Bryant, a co-director for the race.

In fact, the Maine Hall of Fame runner still attends the race named for him every year.

"It's a great race," said Ralph Thomas."I mean I don't run it anymore, but I do the walking."

"We thought it would be fitting to honor him in a way that he could come and sort of motivate young people to take up the sport of running," Bryant said.

Thomas is not only a role model for young athletes, but for others like him who suffer from diabetes.

"Several of my relatives around here have died from diabetes," Thomas said.

According to the CDC, American Indians have a greater chance of having diabetes than any other race in the United States.

The Penobscot Nation is no exception.

"We have 180 here that are affected by diabetes, and it is a disease that affects Indian country more than any other population in the U.S."

All proceeds from the run go towards diabetes prevention and awareness.

It's a step in the right direction, towards an active, healthy lifestyle.

"Having the community support today, having everyone together working for the same cause of helping to raise awareness for diabetes is really awesome," said Abbey McCarthy, the Penobscot Nation's certified diabetes educator.