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.

Kayla Fish

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Kayla joined the ABC 7 & FOX 22 news team in May of 2017. She got into journalism because she loves talking with people, and she's incredibly grateful to share the stories of Mainers throughout the region.

She got her start in broadcasting way back in middle school as a member of a morning announcements TV broadcast club, and her love for the news industry took off from there.

Kayla graduated from Penn State University in 2017 with degrees in broadcast journalism and Spanish. During her time as a student at Penn State, Kayla was an executive producer and reporter for the "Centre County Report", an Emmy award-winning student-run newscast. She studied abroad in Ronda, Spain and traveled to Panama with an international reporting class. Kayla kept busy in college, spending four years working as a student manager in the dining hall.

Kayla grew up in the village of Shawnee-on-Delaware, located in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, so transitioning into life in Vacationland was a piece of cake! A self-described winter fanatic, she loves all things snow related, including hitting the slopes on her snowboard. She also likes hiking, kayaking or doing anything outdoors. She loves meeting new people so if you see her around, be sure to stop and say hi!