RICHMOND, Ind. — When diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes while hospitalized with a virus at the age of 23, Jay Hewitt was at first “stunned and worried. But after several years of living with diabetes, I realized that it was up to me and how I lived my life,” he said.
So, he used the disease as a motivator to take charge of his life and his health – and he became an Ironman triathlete. Hewitt, also an attorney and motivational speaker, will be the featured guest at the 10th annual Reid Health November Diabetes event, scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, in Lingle Hall and Auditorium on the main campus, 1100 Reid Parkway in Richmond.
His message isn’t that everyone with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes should become triathletes. His message is this: “Make diabetes the best thing that ever happened to you by using it as a motivation to eat healthy and exercise, and encourage others in your life to adopt the same healthy lifestyle. I want patients to know they can live a healthy life and achieve anything with diabetes. Diabetes does not have to stop someone from doing anything, as long as they manage it properly.”
Hewitt will share about balancing years of triathlon training, racing and world travel with a law practice, all the while also managing his blood sugar. He said at the time he was diagnosed, there were not as many treatment options as are available today. “I became determined to prove that I was stronger than it is and that it picked on the wrong guy. I respect my diabetes, but I will not surrender to it … I do not like having diabetes, but I have made it the best thing that ever happened to me.”
The most important thing for someone with a diabetes diagnosis is to first follow the advice of caregivers, but also ask questions about all the options for treatment. Don’t surrender control to the disease; rather, take control over it.
“If I can swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, then run a 26.2 mile marathon all in one day while taking insulin and checking my blood sugar, and counting carbohydrate consumption, then a patient with Type 2 diabetes at any age can and should pursue exercise appropriate for their fitness level,” he said. “And eating healthy is just as important as medication and exercise. The combination of all three is the key to managing blood sugar and diabetes.”
According to his biographical information, Hewitt is the only person with Type 1 diabetes to race for the U.S. National Triathlon Team. He began public speaking 12 years ago while still racing and practicing law. He launched his full-time speaking career in 2011. He has been featured in Diabetes Health, Diabetes Forecast and many other national publications. He has also been the focus of television documentaries on networks such as CNBC, WGN and Lifetime.
A board member for several health-related organizations, Hewitt is the author of Finish Line Vision®, which chronicles his remarkable journey and approach to life. He and his wife Anna, a model and Miss South Carolina USA, have 3 children.
Hewitt is a three-time member of the U.S. National Team for Long Distance Triathlon, having raced for Team USA at the World Championships in 2004, 2005 and 2006 in Denmark, Sweden and Australia. He’s competed in 14 Ironman triathlons, 20 half-Ironman triathlons and 8 individual marathons, and is a three-time finisher of the Boston Marathon. In 2006, he and his teammates won the 3,000-mile Race Across America, cycling nonstop from San Diego to Atlantic City in 5 days and 16 hours.
The annual diabetes event is an expanded version of the monthly diabetes support group. Christie Ferriell, Manager, Diabetes & Nutrition Education & Clinical Nutrition at Reid Health, said the new schedule will be unveiled at the event. It is sponsored and hosted by the Reid Health Diabetes & Nutrition Education, the Reid Endocrinology Center and Novo Nordisk ®.
Reservations for the event are needed by Friday, Nov. 11 and can be made by calling 765-983-7961.