Garza hopes to raise diabetes awareness

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Roberto Garza wants to open people’s eyes by talking about their feet.

The Chicago Bears guard spent more than 8 hours in the Walter Payton Center on Wednesday, May 30, 2007 creating TV, radio and print public service announcements (PSA) in both English and Spanish in conjunction with the American Diabetes
Association, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and
American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

The PSA campaign is aimed at encouraging individuals with diabetes or
diabetes in their family to closely monitor their feet to make sure
that they aren’t experiencing any circulation problems. The spots
instruct people to pinch their toes to ensure that they haven’t lost
any sensation.

More than 82,000 Americans with diabetes suffer amputations of feet or lower limbs, 45-85 percent of which could be prevented with proper foot care.

“The awareness is key to catching it at an early stage,” Garza said.

Garza participated in a nearly identical PSA campaign in 2001 when he was a rookie with the Atlanta Falcons. That came after his grandfather had to have a toe amputated because of diabetes.

“Ever since that happened, I knew I wanted to make a difference and help out with the cause,” Garza said. “This is just a great opportunity to bring some awareness to such a serious disease.”

Garza, whose family emigrated from Mexico to Rio Hondo, Texas, about a year before he was born, is one of only a small number of Hispanic players in the NFL.

The 6-2, 305-pounder is actively involved in the Hispanic community in terms of giving back as well as teaching and promoting the game of football. He was the Bears’ nominee for the 2006 Walter Payton NFL Man
of the Year Award, the only league honor that recognizes a player’s
community service as well as his performance on the field.

Last year Garza was featured in a national United Way commercial, purchased and donated 19 tickets to each Bears home game to children at various Hispanic organizations throughout Chicago and spearheaded
“Futbol Americano con Roberto,” a program that introduced over 250
Hispanic children to youth football and promoted healthy living.

Garza is just as passionate about the diabetes campaign. According to ADA statistics, Hispanics are almost twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites of similar age to have diabetes, and African-Americans are
between 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 times more likely to suffer from lower limb
amputations than other people with diabetes.

“I feel strongly about trying to open people’s eyes,” Garza said. “I
do a wide range of things [in the community], but diabetes is very
predominant in the Latino population, so it’s something that hits close
to home for me. It’s a great opportunity for me to use my professional
athlete status to try to help out and make a difference and open
people’s eyes.”

Print PSA

Radio PSA: English Español