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Editor’s Note: follow-up story on Bob Scheidt’s A Walk Across Europe, printed Feb. 7.
Lending a hand, or more likely their feet, Kutztown students danced to raise money toward a Kutztown resident’s Walk Across Europe in his battle to control diabetes.
Abby McAteer, 8th Grader, wanted to participate “to have fun and also help raise funds to help awareness for diabetes so more people know about it.”
Tori Van Durren, 8th Grader, participated “to support a fellow community member.”
Van Durren learned “to never give up on your dreams.”
Held at Kutztown Middle School, a portion of the ticket sales for the dance benefited Bob Scheidt’s A Pilgrimage Across Europe, a four-year trek conducted in stages, first walking across northern Spain and central France in 2013; the remainder of France and all of Switzerland in 2014; Germany, Austria and part of Hungary in 2015; and the remainder of Hungary and all of Romania in 2016. He will follow the “pilgrimage route” across Europe.
“Living with diabetes is like living with a live dragon. Rather dangerous,” said Scheidt, 57. “So I am on a quest, not to slay this dragon, but to control it and to use the power of that dragon to make the world a better place.”
Scheidt mostly sets out to raise awareness and funds for diabetes by doing programs along the way in towns, hospitals, schools, and kids’ camps.
“I want to show that having diabetes doesn’t have to stop you from achieving your dreams. Even after having very brittle diabetes for 40 years--and suffering from many other related complications--I’m still able to walk across continents.”
He also wants to help diabetics understand that good nutrition and regular exercise can go a long way toward achieving control over the disease.
Scheidt talked to the middle school students during a recent assembly,“speaking and showing slides of my past adventures.”
He has spoken a few times at KASD in the past 20 years and gave the commencement address to the high school class of 2008.
“My message is mostly: find something that makes you feel alive, then train, practice, study that discipline, live it, and use it to make the world a better place,” said Scheidt.
Scheidt and his family also attended the fundraising dance.
“The Kutztown School District has always been very supportive of my adventures,” said Scheidt, whose wife and children attended KASD. A Rockland Township native, he went to Brandywine.
“The kids and teachers have inspired me to continue my explorations even during days of bad weather, illness, and general inertia. I’m very grateful for their continuing support,” he said.
The dance came about from KMS art teacher Kris Tuerk introducing student art teacher Carla Majczan to Scheidt.
“She is diabetic and I thought that she would find a kindred spirit in him on what he does with awareness of diabetes,” said Tuerk.
With having an art elective that was working on organizing this dance, the decision to raise money for a cause was made and they ultimately chose to help Scheidt and his journey to Walk Across Europe.
“I think that the students getting involved in this dance benefit really shows them that they can create something that is both fun and entertaining while simultaneously helping others to make a positive change in the world,” said Tuerk.
The dance also benefited the Parent Teacher Organization who held a food and drink sale after school and during the dance, raising more than $250.
“The PTO directly benefits the students so the kids were happy to buy the snacks because they knew that it was all going to help improve the school for them.”
Tuerk reported that overall, about $1,000 was raised.
Her son, Justin, a Kutztown alum and resident, served on the dance organizational team and was DJ for the event. He was involved with Scheidt’s first Walk Across America in 1997.
“I got to see what his journeys are truly like,” he said.
While the walks are a personal journey for Scheidt, Justin said the walks bring with it a wealth of education to everyone he meets and talks to.
“The education of as many people as possible is the best way to combat a disease like diabetes. Knowledge is power and Bob instills power to as many people as he can. After completing this county he is taking on Europe to further this mission,” he said. “With my affiliation to Bob I was happy to help out and DJ with the great dance music of the ‘60s ‘70s and ‘80s on vinyl.”
Majczan and Schiedt handle Diabetes similarly.
“We both have positive outlooks on the disease and move forward with our lives, but also fight against the disease through things like holding fundraisers or walking across a continent to spread awareness about the disease,” said Majczan. “Neither of us back away from educating someone about diabetes, instead we run towards it.”
She hopes students learn that leading a healthy lifestyle has many benefits.
“I also hope that Bob and myself serve as an example and role model so that the students see that hard work, determination and a positive outlook can truly affect what we are told is a debilitating disease.”
Majczan said she is actively involved in community organizations throughout the Lehigh Valley, but she feels a closer connection to her involvement with the American Diabetes Association, being diabetic for the past 22 years of her life.
“I lead a healthy life style; I eat right and exercise. Most people look at me and are shocked to find out that I am diabetic,” she said. “I have never been a person to back away from a challenge and diabetes has proved to be the biggest challenge of my life: it never goes away, it is something that must remain a priority in my daily life. Everything in my life affects it.”
Majczan described being diabetic as a constant battle, “Almost like being on a never ending roller coaster.”
“I will always be the diabetic who controls her disease…that is my goal, to not be a statistic, to be a role model for other diabetics to get healthy and start to define themselves under different titles other than “diabetic”. I try to see the good sides of things, and diabetes has taught me the importance of being healthy.”
Majczan believes it is important to make students and the community aware of diabetes, its statistics and how it is a disease that can be managed. Talking about the stigmas of a disease, she wants people to be educated, see that with every challenge there are people who overcome the obstacles through hard work and determination, like herself and Scheidt.
“I feel that is a life lesson that at the middle school age, students can really benefit from learning,” she said.
Recently, she made cupcakes for the students and made sure to accommodate everyone’s dietary needs and allergies.
“I found it amazing that not one person in the entire middle school was diabetic. It made me happy to see that this disease that they say is turning into an epidemic hasn’t affected anyone directly in the school, however that brought me to feel it is even more important to educate them on the disease itself, because it is evident that almost everyone knows someone who has diabetes, if they don’t have it themselves,” said Majczan.
Talking about the dance benefit, Majczan hopes students see the power of a community coming together to support someone who is fighting for a good cause.
“I hope that they feel good about helping raise money that will be used to advocate for diabetes throughout our world, because I want them to know that what we do here can still impact other people across the world through fundraisers like this,” said Majczan. “Every single good thing you do will impact someone else, even if you don’t directly see it happen, it does… and knowing and understanding that is power in itself.”