Florida Man Walks Across Coast Promoting Diabetes Awareness - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Florida Man Walks Across Coast Promoting Diabetes Awareness

Andy Mandell, 56, of Florida, is on a mission. He started walking a month ago near Tampa, Fla., and he plans to continue the journey around the entire perimeter of the United States. He expects the trip will take three to five years.

"It may sound a little crazy, but we have to do something a little bit out of the ordinary to get attention to the problem that exists," Mandell said.

Mandell has claimed the name "Mr. Diabetes." He's trying to get the word out about adult-onset diabetes.

"It's probably one of the most insidious, devastating disease and it's in epidemic proportions," he said. "The numbers just keep going up year after year after year."

Mandell's partner in this journey is Bob Brooks. He drives behind Mandell making sure he stays safe while walking. And Brooks is no stranger to medical problems -- he had a kidney transplant.

"I was fortunate enough not to have diabetes, but I knew a lot of people when I was on dialysis that did have it and their health was really, really bad compared to what mine was without the disease," Brooks said.

Mandell figures that walking around the perimeter of the United States is the best way to get out his message. He says in the U.S., 200,000 people die every year from diabetes and 10 million Americans don't even realize they have it.

"We can identify who is at risk for developing diabetes," he explained. "We can take those people and put them onto those lifestyle changes early on and then, of course, then the chances of developing it are marginal."

Because of his disease, walking is difficult for him. That's the reason, Mandell uses a walking stick. Despite the challenges, he plans to walk 10 to 15 miles each day sharing his message, and hopefully, saving lives.

The Defeat Diabetes Foundation is funding Andy Mandell's mission.

By Amanda Jones

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