Shortly after committing to participate in the 1998 Atlanta "Walk for Diabetes," Michael Bond went to his doctor’s office for a routine appointment.
Having admitted to his penchant for Coca-Cola and frozen M&Ms, he was given a finger stick "just in case." Bond was diagnosed with diabetes on the spot.
"It was an emotional time," he recalls. "I had no symptoms then, but I have an uncle who is diabetic," he says. "However, it was still a shock."
As the son of honored civil rights activist, Julian Bond, Michael is the father of three children who perpetuated the Bond family legacy by establishing himself as a community leader.
A few weeks after his diagnosis, Bond participated in the walk as an elected representative of Atlanta’s Council District Three and with a new, equally important designation: a man with type 2 diabetes.
Committed to the Cause
Today, Bond says of his career and philanthropy, "Civic leaders of all levels are often told to pick a cause, work with it for a couple of years, and then move on to a new organization." Bond, who is surprisingly soft spoken despite his burgeoning political career, remarks, "It takes a serious commitment to stop diabetes, and I refuse to leave the Association behind." Thus, Bond and his family have continued to support the Association and the Research Foundation through their volunteering and financial commitments.
Recently re-elected to city council, the civic leader now regularly battles with high blood pressure and cloudy vision. "I am personally feeling the effects of diabetes for the first time since my diagnosis," he says, worrying. Like many individuals with the disease, Bond did not experience complications until many years after diagnosis.
With the pressure of a political career, changing dietary and exercise habits and the major change of taking insulin regularly, Bond is re-learning to manage his health.
"It isn’t necessarily painful to have diabetes unless you have complications, like I have now," he says. "Although you may not feel the effects of diabetes today, diabetes still causes damage and cannot be ignored."
Educating the Community
This speaks to an issue in which Bond is immensely interested in, particularly for African-American individuals, who are 1.6 times likelier to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.
"Culturally, diabetes is so common amongst African-Americans, especially in the older generations, that it is often treated carelessly," suggests Bond. With his customary sincerity, he explains, "Diabetes is not merely having ‘sugar,’ as so many people refer to it as. It is a serious disease that no one should be ashamed of having."
Now that he is no longer on the campaign trail and a successful bid to his government post is behind him, Bond has vowed to take better care of himself by walking more, getting necessary sleep, and eating right. In turn, he hopes to encourage the African-American community in Atlanta and beyond to educate themselves about diabetes and support diabetes research.
"Type 2 diabetes can be a deadly disease," Bond says intently. "And I will work to incite passion in our communities, encouraging their support of the Association to increase awareness and help stop this cascading health care problem."
Pledging Support to the Research Foundation
So, he is starting with his own family. Although Bond’s college-age children are currently suffering from what he calls the "Charlie Brown effect" (where young adults do not process what elders are saying), this single parent regularly reminds them of the health consequences of diabetes and the importance of talking about the disease.
As a father and an elected official, Bond knows that he leads by example. In order to solidify his long-standing relationship and commitment to the Association’s cause, Bond announced a generous pledge to the Research Foundation at the Community Volunteer Leadership Conference in 2007.
This heartfelt pledge was Bond’s entrance into the Pinnacle Society, the Association’s giving society for major gift donors who give $10,000 or more to the Research Foundation or other parts of the organization. Additionally, Bond now works in tandem with the Research Foundation Board as a volunteer, disseminating information about the Foundation’s mission and helping to raise gifts to fund diabetes science.
"I want to impart on others the optimism and thrill of funding untested research," claims the Bond. "I am living with diabetes and beating it every day. I am not going to give in to this fight and neither should others."