La Sierra Volunteer has a Contagious Enthusiasm for Health

Alexander, center top in a gray shirt, surrounded by children during a previous La Sierra mission trip to Nicaragua.

Alexander, center top in a gray shirt, surrounded by children during a previous La Sierra mission trip to Nicaragua.

La Sierra University student Alexander Alonso has cultivated a passion for disease prevention. Once a nursing major, he switched his course of study and recently graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Health Promotion & Education. He sees the importance and value in preventing diseases before they start.

The struggle Alexander's Abuelita experienced while battling Type II Diabetes has empowered him to work toward an end to diabetes. He wants to honor her life by helping others. One of the ways he'll accomplish this is by joining Canvasback Missions on a health and wellness mission this June.

But Alexander won't be the only one joining us. Canvasback is proud to team up with La Sierra University to fight Type II Diabetes in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. A whole team of students, the majority of them studying health-, nutrition-, and exercise-related fields, will perform a two-week diabetes intervention and a community health outreach event on the island of Majuro.

According to the International Diabetes Federation's latest figures, the Marshall Islands holds the highest prevalence for diabetes among all nations. The need for health education and personal instruction in using lifestyle to manage diabetes is desperately needed.

Majuro is the Marshall Islands' biggest population center, so it makes sense to begin programs there. This is where Canvasback chose to place its Wellness Center, and it is here that we offer lifestyle interventions, a free public exercise center, healthy meals, and many other programs and resources for treating diabetes and promoting wellness.

Although the mission doesn't start until June, Alexander is already working hard on it; right now he's fundraising to pay for the mission. His first fundraiser is a walk-a-thon, in which he plans on trekking from Tom's Farms in Corona, Calif. to SeaWorld in San Diego, Calif.—a whopping 100 miles! He'll complete the walk with his family in six days during his spring break vacation. Alexander is accepting donations on a per mile or solid pledge basis. You can read about and support his walk-a-thon, which begins March 22, here: http://www.youcaring.com/enddiabetes.

We're excited for this program, because everyone will benefit. Students will apply what they've learned in school. Residents with diabetes will finish the program armed with the skills they need to manage diabetes in the best way possible: through lifestyle, sans unaffordable medicines. Best of all, there is a lasting impact—the students will leave the community with knowledge that can be used perpetually, meaning their work doesn't stop as soon as they leave for home.

We're glad to have Alexander and the other students on board. And we'll be sure to let you know how their trip went this summer.

If you'd like to know more about our Wellness Center on Majuro, visit our website. If you'd like to sponsor more interventions like this, you can donate here.