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UTPA, Lacks Furniture continue to fight against diabetes
By Jennifer Berghom, Public Affairs Representative
Posted: 06/12/2013
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Throughout the past year, The University of Texas-Pan American and Lacks Furniture have gained more allies in the fight against diabetes.


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Lacks Furniture has donated $125,000 over the next five years to help UTPA's Border Health Office (BHO) run its Student Enrollment and Education Program. Pictured from left to right are: UTPA student Javier Soto, UTPA Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, UTPA Associate Vice President for University Advancement Lydia P. Aleman, UTPA President Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, Lacks Furniture owner and CEO Lee Aaronson, Lacks Human Resources Director Dr. John Price, UTPA BHO Executive Director Doreen Garza, UTPA Vice President for University Advancement Veronica Gonzales, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District Nurse Julia Soper, and UTPA College of Health Sciences and Human Services Dean Dr. John Ronnau.

Through the Student Enrollment and Education Program (SEEP), UTPA's Border Health Office (BHO) and Lacks have reached out to more than 16,000 students from 13 different school districts throughout the Rio Grande Valley to educate them about the risks and complications associated with diabetes in hopes that they will inform their families, said Doreen D. Garza, executive director of the BHO.

Lacks Furniture, which has championed programs that educate the community about diabetes and seek a cure for the disease, has donated $25,000 per year to UTPA for the next five years to support SEEP.

SEEP has registered nurses conduct lessons to fourth-grade students about what causes diabetes and what health problems arise from people who develop the disease.

Activities include watching a video with cartoon dinosaurs that explain the risk factors and symptoms of diabetes and taking quick quizzes to see how much the students already know and what they learned during the presentation.

The BHO created the SEEP to raise awareness about diabetes — which is prevalent in the Rio Grande Valley, with about a third of the population having or at risk of developing the disease — and chose to target fourth grade students because they are dependable, responsible and can understand the importance of positive, healthy lifestyle changes.

This coming school year, SEEP expects to reach thousands more students at additional school districts across the Valley.

UTPA continues to help Lacks raise awareness about diabetes. In its latest efforts, Lacks is donating $1 to every "Like" it receives on its Facebook page to the American Diabetes Association, as well as accepting donations from customers at its stores. The furniture giant also will match donations up to $10,000 from "Likes" and in-store donations.