Brian Friedman — a member of my free, online KickSugar group — is swimming handcuffed Friday morning across the Hudson River to fight the diabetes epidemic.
Well, Brian, 43, wants to get the point across that people with diabetes "feel shackled by the disease."
Earlier this afternoon, Brian casually announced his intentions via e-mail to my group, when Myra, my astute KickSugar Assistant Moderator, quickly alerted me to how he’s using his athletic prowess to raise money for the American Diabetes Association. I immediately tracked down the swimmer through his EscapeFromDiabetes website and reached Brian on the phone.
He was recuperating from another swim — this one across the Potomac — on Tuesday morning.
‘Course most folks won’t be able to tackle such a rigorous exercise regime, much less without the handcuffs.
But Brian has experience testing the waters. In fact, he’s a fitness trainer, who, last year swam handcuffed from Alcatraz to San Francisco in 54 minutes and 20 seconds (a world record, he says).
If you want to see Brian swim, go to either Weehawken Harbor in New Jersey at 7 a.m. Friday or to Surfside 3 Marina at Chelsea Piers (23rd Street and the Hudson River) in New York at 8 a.m. (when he expects to arrive).
Brian is crossing the Hudson River in honor of his grandfather, "who developed type 2 diabetes in the 1960s and, had both legs amputated in the ’70s and that’s the way he lived the rest of his life until he passed away in 1989.
"I remember visiting my grandfather when I was in high school, and he couldn’t be an active person any longer. It was a major production for him to even go to a restaurant.
"The sad part is that when my grandfather got successful he loved to eat and pretty much his only exercise was going to Giant games," says Brian, who believes that his grandfather’s poor lifestyle habits helped trigger his diabetes.
Brian — who notes that diabetes is the # 1 cause of non-traumatic amputation — is now horrified that young people are getting diabetes in record numbers.
"I just want to do some small thing to motivate people to change their lifestyle — to get outside and work out, whether it’s running or hiking, and eating better," adds Brian, who claims that he’s a "below-average athlete" — that’s pretty hard to believe when you look at his photo.
For those of you into sugary foods, Brian says that exercising banishes his desire for them.
"When I’m exercising a lot, I don’t have sugar cravings. When I do get a sweet tooth attack, I am happy with an apple or a banana.
"I want everyone to know getting up and out of the chair and doing any exercise will kill those cravings," says Brian, who confessed to a donut weakness and a "sweet tooth."
But he quips, "It’s hard to eat a donut when you are swimming across the Hudson handcuffed!"
Speaking of handcuffs, Brian coudn’t bring a pair with him while flying to New York so the owner of Washington Police Supply gave him a pair.
Brian urges people to donate directly to the American Diabetes Association when they hear about his "publicity stunt."
You can also check out his blog, where he’s writing about his aquatic adventures.
As Brian points out, research has shown that a person making lifestyle changes could delay or even prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, as revealed by the Diabetes Prevention Program.
Go for it, Brian! Wishing you the best! Hope you raise both awareness and money for the ADA.