Walking For Another Man's Shoes

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The scene was difficult to watch, but there on the screen, Bill Holden's favorite baseball player struggled to put on prosthetic limbs and dress himself.

As Holden watched the documentary called, "This Old Cub," which chronicles former All-Star third baseman and Chicago Cubs legend, Ron Santo's lifelong battle with diabetes and his nine-month recovery from a second leg amputation, the 56-year-old retired teacher decided to step up to the plate and take action.

Holden, who lives in Prescott Valley, was already well aware of the dangers of diabetes. He had seen its destructive power while teaching on American Indian reservations.

"I've been a teacher for 32 years," Holden said. "Diabetes is an epidemic on the reservations. What it does to the kids is appalling. It's horrible. It's so destructive.''

After watching the documentary seven times, Holden decided to raise awareness by embarking on a 2,100-mile walk from Arizona to Chicago to benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Starting his journey from Camp Verde on Jan. 11, Holden has set a pace to walk 12 miles a day for 171 days. Holden passed through Payson last Friday and Saturday on his way to Chicago. "I had a good day coming in from Strawberry, and tomorrow I head for Rye," Holden said. He plans to arrive at Wrigley Field in Chicago on June 30, where Santo will be waiting to meet him.

In an interview with Chicago's Daily Herald newspaper, Holden expressed the purpose of his six-month trek.

"I want people, especially young people, to understand what's happening and how terrible diabetes is. With reality shows that aren't really real and all the other garbage out there, kids are missing a lot. You have to make the most of your time here, and this is something I hope helps," Holden said.

Holden also hopes that people who support his endeavor will make donations to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

"It's worth it to me if we can collect a ton of money and maybe some day find a cure,'' Holden said. "When I saw clips of Ron without legs, my mind flashed back to him at third base and how quick he was and how aggressive he was and what this disease has done to him."

The Mazatzal Casino and Tonto Apache Tribe provided Holden with a hotel room and meals during his stay in Payson.

"This is a wonderful town. Everybody has been so kind," Holden said. "The hospitality has been great."

Holden's final words before hitting the pavement again ...

"Pray for me -- I'll make it."

If you would like to contribute, you can send a check to the JDRF, 500 N. Dearborn, Suite 305, Chicago, IL 60610. You also can call (312) 670-0313 or donate by visiting www.jdrfillinois.org.

For more information about the documentary "This Old Cub," visit www.thisoldcub.com.

This Old Cub video

Ron Santo was the first and only major league position player to play with type 1 diabetes. He kept the disease a secret for most of his career for fear that he would be forced to retire early. At a time when much less was known about how to manage diabetes, Santo rarely missed a game -- taking insulin injections and eating chocolate bars based solely on how he felt from moment to moment.

For more information about the documentary "This Old Cub," visit www.thisoldcub.com.

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