BANGOR, Maine — An advocate for diabetes awareness and wellness will speak at noon Thursday at Husson University’s Gracie Theatre.
Andy Holder, better known as “Iron Andy,” was a 36-year-old husband and father of two young sons when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes, in 2005, according to a Husson press release issued last week.
Holder, who lives in Shippack, Pa., also is a dedicated body builder. Determined to beat diabetes, he taught himself how to swim and trained hard to complete seven Ironman competitions — a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon run of 26.2 miles. When he decided to compete in Ironman competitions, Holder didn’t know how to swim and didn’t own a bicycle, according to his website, ironandyfoundation.org.
When he’s not competing, Holder travels the country delivering inspirational speeches and urging people diagnosed with diabetes to maintain positive attitudes. His appearances, including the one at Husson, are sponsored by Good Neighbor Pharmacy, a national network of pharmacies based in Valley Forge, Pa.
“These pharmacies do a lot of work with diabetes and have designated diabetes training in their stores,” Holder told the Times Herald, a Norristown, Pa., newspaper, in July 2011. “They thought my story was a great vehicle to create this national marketing campaign that would not only inspire people with diabetes, but also educate people on how helpful a pharmacy could be for someone with diabetes. They created a campaign around my story called ‘Managing Diabetes: Living without Limits.’”
Holder’s foundation raises funds to send children with diabetes to camp.
Immediately after his presentation at Husson, Holder will lead about 100 Husson pharmacy students, decked out in white coats, on a 1-mile walk around the Husson circle to kick off their “Walk to New Orleans” project.
The 1,763-mile virtual walk is being undertaken as part of National Pharmacy Month and will be part of the American Pharmacists Association’s Operation Heart project, in which the Husson chapter is participating, according to the press release. Each chapter member will be responsible for tracking his or her walking mileage. The chapter goal is to have walked the more than 1,700 miles to New Orleans by March, when the association is holding its annual conference in the Big Easy.
“We are thrilled to have such a renowned diabetes awareness and wellness advocate on our campus to not only speak to our students, but help them kick off the ‘Walk to New Orleans’ project,” Eric Jarvi, associate dean of the School of Pharmacy, said in the press release. “The 1-mile kickoff demonstrates that our students will not only graduate from our program with outstanding skills in the practice of pharmacy, but will also have a clear understanding of the importance of promoting wellness and healthy living.”