Running Against the Odds
As the Director of Diabetes Education and Patient Self-Management Services at AM Diabetes Centers of America, Kent Stoneking, PharmD, CDCES, is passionate about helping others manage their wellness through educational access while finding the silver lining in all of life’s challenges.
Kent’s journey with health and fitness began in sixth grade when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and began building muscle to gain a competitive edge in school sports.
“It kind of just clicked with me,” he said, doing pushups while in the hospital, moving any way he could. Returning home, Kent purchased weights and began jogging around the neighborhood.
Reinforcing these lifestyle changes at 16 years old, he participated in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), a landmark, decade-long trial that validated A1C as a marker for diabetes control.
The compelling data proved that glucose can be lowered safely to tremendously impact diabetes complications through a healthy diet, portion control, and exercise.
“When it comes to diabetes, a lot of people don’t have the information they need to be successful,” he explains of his current work in the Memphis community.
Empowered with the right resources, Kent continued to enjoy a robust, active lifestyle until a 2011 motorcycle accident crushed his left leg, leading to amputation.
Surgeons did not sound hopeful for the future of his active lifestyle, yet Skip Martin from Precision Prosthetics had another idea in mind.
Ninety days post-amputation, Kent received a call from the prosthetist.
“Do you wanna run? I told him, ‘I wanna run so bad I can taste it.’”
Using a triple-reinforced prosthetic leg, Kent took off running on the sidewalk. “I started giggling. I’m so thankful for so many things, praise God.”
By the summer, Kent was already coaching his son’s soccer team, playing in an adult men’s league, and waterskiing. Kent and his brother Kurt even ran St. Jude’s marathon in December 2012.
“It was an amazing moment of gratitude for the healing,” also inspiring their father, in his 70s at the time, to train for and run a half marathon in 2014.
“People were laughing at that race because an old guy and an amputee were passing them,” he recalls with a chuckle.
Kent’s children (Bradley, Caleb, and Hannah, all in their 20s) have participated with him in the St. Jude marathon events, making for a family outing that’s meaningful and fun, too.
“Running for St. Jude’s is always about enjoying it as a family.” In 2018, Kent was awarded the Heroes Among Us medal.
“I’m in this boat, but I’m not going to be miserable. I’m going to be joyful and grateful and connect with others in the same situation, whether diabetes or amputee. Let’s help each other be the best you can be,” he shares.
For maintenance, Kent runs three times a week. He does TRX exercises and weight training at his office’s full-scale fitness facility, performing various functional movement activities to stay flexible, including PaSaRyu blended martial arts.
Living with type 1 diabetes at 56, Kent tries to keep his diet well-balanced. He and his wife Amanda amply supplement vitamins and replace excess sodium and sugars with flavorful spices while grilling fresh veggies and lean proteins at home.
“Don’t ever say ‘can’t.’ I had to learn to strike that word from my vocabulary. Ask ‘how can I,’ and you’ll find a way.”
By Shlomit Ovadia
Photo by Tindall Stephens