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Sam Zaccari

The Iron Man—Baltimore Step Out to Fight Diabetes

The trials that Sam Zaccari (aka "The Iron Man") and his family have faced have not slowed him down a bit. At age 66, Sam takes his fund raising to the streets in a year-round effort to raise as much money as he can for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and its walk event. His approach is to-the-point and entirely effective: "Just get out there and ask for it. You're not going to get it unless you ask for it."

Sam's been "asking for it" since the inception of the ADA walk in 1991, and he has single-handedly raised nearly $300,000. Having lost his mother, brother and sister to complications of diabetes, in addition to living with it himself, Sam wanted to educate others about what he wished he had known sooner. “I couldn't believe what I learned—that people don't have to suffer the way my family did," he said. "I'm living proof of it—for 21 years, my eyes have been stable. Controlling my blood sugar helped the pain [of neuropathy] go away. My A1C is down to about 6.5. By doing all this, it just prevents these complications from getting any worse."

What is Sam's strategy for bringing in the big bucks? "I just go bang on their doors and I tell them how serious the disease is," he explained. "We have an epidemic, and we need help to cure this disease. It's getting out of hand."

While Sam claims that he's "too old to pump these doors," he has already raised an astounding $14,000 for this year's Step Out event, and he has set his goal at a dollar more than last year—no small feat, as he raised $27,000 in 2006!

Sam was featured in the August 2005 issue of Diabetes Forecast ("Opportunity Knocks," Terri Kordella), and has said he will continue to get out and do his best. "As long as the good Lord lets me do it, I'm going to keep on going," he said.

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