Serendipitous is the word that Dr. Susan Miller uses to describe how she got involved with Better Health. As a pharmacist and Director of Pharmacotherapy Education for the Family Medicine Residency at Southern Regional Area Health Education Center, Susan knew about Better Health primarily through a colleague, also a pharmacist, who volunteered for the organization at educational events. Her co-worker was moving away, and she asked Susan to take her place as a volunteer.

The first event where Susan volunteered was a clinic for diabetic patients at Gray’s Creek Recreation Center. She and her pharmacy students went through the medications that patients were taking to discuss benefits, side effects, and possible drug interactions.

Jim Kerchmar, Better Health’s board president at the time, was also volunteering that day, and he immediately reported back to Judy Klinck, executive director, that Better Health needed Susan on the board.

Klinck quickly followed up, and shortly Susan was an active volunteer and board member. That was six years ago.  “This organization strikes a chord with me,” Susan states. “My grandparents and parents have Type 2 diabetes; my husband’s sister has Type 1 diabetes; and my 13-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 6 years old.”

Finding out that her daughter had diabetes was a traumatic and turbulent time for Susan and her Family. “Even though I’m a healthcare professional, I missed every sign,” Susan recalls. “She had lost a little weight, but I thought it was just a growth spurt as she was hungry all the time.”

Susan and her husband, Tom, had taken Isabelle for her school physical, and the nurse asked if she had ever had glucose in her urine. “It clicked and I said, ‘She has it’.”

Isabelle’s pediatrician referred her to Chapel Hill, and by the time she arrived the next morning, her blood sugar was more than 600. (Normal blood sugar range is 70 to 110.) She received insulin immediately and was admitted for three days. The day after Isabelle came home, Susan realized she was pregnant with their second child, and Tom was about to deploy again.

All four members of the Miller Family, Tom (now a retired lieutenant colonel), Susan, Isabelle and sister, Polly (age 6) will participate in the first Red Apple Run/Walk for Diabetes on Nov. 16.

“We will run this race to support Better Health, and the great work they do in the community to educate people on diabetes.

Also we enjoy getting out as a Family to exercise, and we participate in a lot of races. We try to teach Isabelle that there’s nothing she can’t do even with her diabetes. We want both our children to grow up knowing the importance of taking care of themselves and the importance of exercise in helping to control diabetes,” Susan said.

She pointed out that the Red Apple Run fits right in with Better Health’s mission to create a healthier community.

“As a board member, I think it’s important for us to focus not only on greater awareness of what we offer to residents of Cumberland County but also to provide a healthy, family-friendly event that many people of all ages and abilities can participate in.”

The Red Apple Run/Walk for Diabetes takes place on Nov. 16 at the Medical Arts Building, 101 Robeson St., in Fayetteville. The 5K Run/Walk starts at 8:30 a.m., followed by a 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk at 9:15 a.m.

Fees for the 5K are $15 for ages 10 and under and $25 for ages 11 and over. A t-shirt is included, if registered before Nov. 1. The fun run registration fee is $10. There are several categories for prizes including a prize for the largest team that participates together.

Teams are encouraged to walk or run in honor or memory of a loved one with diabetes.

Registration is available online at Active.com or by downloading a form at www.BetterHealthCC.org.  Proceeds from the events benefit Better Health and Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation’s Pediatric Endocrinology Program.

Founded in 1958, Better Health is a nonprofit, charitable organization and relies upon local foundation, community and donor generosity for its funding.