Column: Dive in and swim for diabetes

In June 1982, Grove City resident Russ Linder attended a weekend camp for Indian guides with his three young children – Mike and Marcy, 9-year-old twins, as well as Mindy, age 6. The foursome packed a lifetime of memories into two short, glorious days. Russ and his son even won the annual father/son fishing contest. By the end of the weekend, the 37-year-old husband and father was hospitalized in intensive care, breathing on life support. Russ Linder died within 24 hours of diabetic complications.

Diabetes, a potentially deadly condition which occurs when the body fails to produce enough insulin to process sugar, impacts the lives of an estimated 20.8 million Americans. Young or old; black or white; rich or poor – the insidious disease knows no boundaries, no pre-set class barriers. Juvenile diabetes, along with adult on-set, impacts major body organs, often robbing its host of sight, heart, and kidney function.  

A cure is critical. While many people live active, productive lives with diabetes, they deal with the looming, ever-present threat of irreversible physical complications – including the very real possibility of death. Diabetes isn’t something that happens to someone else.

Currently, 184,500 diagnosed central Ohioans deal with the disease. The actual numbers might actually prove far higher in light of those individuals who are presently undiagnosed.  

That’s why the 33rd annual Swim for Diabetes gives hope to so many families. The event, planned for March 2, raises money to support individuals coping with diabetes.

Proceeds generated at over 40 area pools  remain here to help residents in need. This revenue promotes detection abilities, provides training and education, and underwrites numerous social service programs. Funds also support youth camps for children diagnosed with diabetes.

Today, Mike Linder is no longer a child. In his 30s, he shares his life  with a loving, intelligent wife and two beautiful children. He is accomplished in his field, his timeless values garnering the respect of contemporaries. You might think that memories of his father, that final father/son fishing contest, are regulated to faded photographs. A sentimental keepsake of days gone by.  

Yet Mike remembers – every day and every year, he takes time out of his hectic, fast-paced schedule to participate in the annual Swim for Diabetes. One lap, two laps, one stroke after another – he swims to honor his father. He swims to help others and he swims because no one should ever lose a loved one to such a devastating disease as diabetes.

Support Mike Linder and the Central Ohio Diabetes Association in their tireless quest to conquer diabetes. Go to Mike’s personal page at the Central Ohio Diabetes Association Web site,, to make a pledge. It doesn’t matter if the dollar amount is big or small; the only requirement is that you give from the heart.

I think Russ Linder would be proud – very proud.  

Cindy Kazalia is a Messenger staff writer.


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