Crowds of people lined up Sunday at Meridian's Bonita Lakes Park to walk. But it wasn't just another stroll in the park. This walk was serving a much more important purpose. All of these individuals are walking to promote diabetes awareness throughout the state of Mississippi. And the city of Meridian has been doing so for 12 years.
"We had a wonderful walk. Our ribbon cutters were children with diabetes, adults with diabetes, and people with family members who have diabetes. So, it was a really great turn out," describes Irena McClain, the Associate Director for the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi.
One person who made sure to turn out at the walk is Rhonda Simpson. Her husband passed away in April of this year due to diabetes. Seeing all of the support from these walkers makes things a little easier for her.
"Words cannot say what it means to me for everybody to be walking with me," exclaims Rhonda Simpson.
Simpson's daughters, nieces, nephews, and friends were with her today. This is how she made it through the walk. And that's how many others are able to do it as well.
"Well it's great. If you're a child with diabetes you might be the only one in your school and it's nice to see other children with diabetes; you're not the only one on the planet. For adults with diabetes it's a nice show of support. We have a lot of family teams out here. And diabetes is a family affair. When one member of a family is effected, it effects everyone in that family," says McClain.
Simpson and her family have been greatly effected. Simpson lost her husband. Her daughters and son lost their father. She does not want others to have to lose a loved one to diabetes.
"I want everybody to start taking care of themselves, as far as diabetes, getting their checks, going to the doctors, taking their medicine, making sure they check those sugars, and above all do not be prideful. Go to the doctors. Let them look at those feet. Whatever it does to save your life," reminds Simpson.
And as far as all of those walkers, Simpson thanks you.
"I call them heroes. They are heroes."