An astute businesswoman, leader, and athlete, player of the year, athlete of the year, the first NCAA basketball player to amass over 2,600 points, 500 assist and 400 steals, WNBA Washington Mystic Alana M. Beard realizes she is just as vulnerable as anyone against diabetes.

“I was approached about this initiative” says Ms. Beard… they asked me if I wanted to be an ambassador. I didn’t give an answer right away…” Ever an avid supporter of charitable causes; such as her own foundation which now sponsors several youth basketball teams, she did not want to be part of something without building a strong personal connection to it. She did her research and “Come to find out my grandfather actually had, type two diabetes and my grandmother also had the traits.”

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With her new found connection to the cause, Alana was all in. She and Dribble to Stop Diabetes, in association with American Diabetes Association, are helping nearly “26 million Americans who have diabetes and another 79 million who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.” Alongside NBA stars Dwight Howard, Walt Frazier, and Chris Dudley , Alana and “all teams in the NBA, WNBA and even the NBA Development league hold on-court activation and PSAs as well as handing out information to attendees during games.”

Personal health, much less diabetes may be the last thing on someone’s mind during a game, but “that’s the whole vision behind this campaign. The one thing I can tell them to do is to go to DribbletoStopDiabetes.com and they can find out so much information there, they can even take a risk assessment.”

“We are proud to partner with the NBA, WNBA, NBA D-League and the American Diabetes Association to help communicate this important message to a nationwide audience.” stated Dennis Urbaniak, Vice President, Head of U.S. Diabetes, Sanofi-Aventis. Sanofi-Aventis is a multi-national pharmaceutical company also dedicated to increasing diabetes awareness. “Dribble to Stop Diabetes is a great complement to our NBA/WNBA FIT program as we work to promote health and wellness for fans of all ages,” said NBA Executive Vice President, Social Responsibility & Player Programs Kathy Behrens

theGrio: For people living with diabetes how can they incorporate healthy habits into their lifestyle?

Ms. Beard: “First consult your doctor, secondly it has to be a life style it has to be something that you’re willing and wanting to change. Getting up every day and making it a priority to want to eat healthy to become more active than what you are… I think this is an issue that everyone should know the risks.”

Note: DTSD is a partnership between the NBA, WNBA, NBA Development League, the American Diabetes Association and Sanofi US.