On the eve of World Diabetes Day (WDD) in 2011, I was the catalyst in forming a new diabetes advocacy and awareness movement. I "traded" in my cycling shoes and donned a metaphorical Blue High Heel. Let me explain.
The Blue Heel Society was launched on the premise that anyone (anyone at all!) can effectively advocate for diabetes given the right "platform." We realized that raising diabetes awareness could be as simple as wearing a blue pair of shoes - heels, boots, flip-flops or sneakers. No matter who or where you are, you can rock a blue shoe to start a dialogue and change how people see diabetes.
Our logo is a combination of the WDD blue circle symbol and a high heel shoe. The design is meant as a reminder that while the shoe is beautiful and fabulous (like all of us living with or caring for someone with diabetes!), it can often be challenging - actually downright painful to walk around in all day, every day.
We recently celebrated our first birthday, and wow, what a year it has been! The participation of so many individuals in the diabetes community has shown how easy and effective this advocacy campaign really is. We’ve had rock star pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Jennifer Shine Dyer (a.k.a. The EndoGoddess) join us as a blogger and Medical Consultant, and also collaborated with the likes of celebrity chef and filmmaker Charles Mattocks and rising NASCAR superstar Ryan Reed.
Luminary Program for Diabetes Awareness
We recently launched one of our most important pieces of advocacy work yet—our Luminary Program. A Luminary is an advocate in the war against diabetes who uses his or her fabulous blue shoes to speak volumes about diabetes awareness. With the Luminary Program we turn the advocacy over to you and support you doing it *your* way. We do this by providing a shoebox full of tools to help Luminaries operate a local Blue Heel Society chapter of their own.
Host your Own Blue Heel Event to Raise Diabetes Awareness
You can host an event about anything and wear blue shoes to simultaneously advocate for people affected by diabetes. While your efforts may yield a community of people donning blue shoes in support of a very real and personal journey in dealing with diabetes, the event by which you are influencing these people need not be diabetes related.
Be it a book club meeting, pet adoption day, church function or a diabetes-specific event, you can advocate for people who live with or care for someone with diabetes, simply by wearing a blue shoe in "your" fashion. Regardless of what your passion is, we want to empower community leaders to use the Blue Heel Society as a platform to promote those causes and interests - all the while showing support and raising awareness about diabetes in arenas formerly thought of as unreachable or unrelated.
Think about that...a local high-schooler is having a car wash to raise money for the soccer team...yet every student is there in blue shoes!! The soccer team gets proper funding and these people just changed the way we talk about diabetes as a disease, without taking a single penny from their efforts.
Use the Blue Heel Society to Promote your Diabetes Cause
Still want to raise money for your diabetes walk? Support the JDRF? ADA? DRI? Iron Andy Foundation? We do, too. We don't raise money...but we encourage you to raise money for your charity of choice by using the Blue Heel Society to promote your cause! We provide access to public social media, and local and global promotion of your events regardless if they are diabetes-related or not...and a ton of other support, including visibility with our blog readers and Twitter/Facebook followers...at no charge to anyone.
The beauty and simplicity of the Blue Heel Society is this: you are the best advocate we have. Be your fabulous self and stand tall - and tell everyone you know to walk a mile in your blue shoes.