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Morris, Wingo headline JDRF event

Date: 9/5/2010

Springfield -- University of Massachusetts Head Football Coach Kevin Morris, and his wife, Rebeccas, are serving as co-chairs of the 2010 Western Massachusetts Walk to Cure Diabetes for the second consecutive year. Also returning in a leadership role for the Juvenile Diabetes Researrch Foundation (JDRF) Walk is Trey Wingo, host of ESPN's NFL Live, who will serve as grand marshall.

Approximately 3,500 walkers representing families, schools, local corporations and other organizations are expected to participate in the Western Massachusetts Walk to Cure Diabetes on Oct. 17 at Six Flags New England in Agawam. Walkers raising $50 or more for JDRF will receive free admission for the day until Six Flags closes at 9 p.m. The walk is one of three to take place this fall by JDRF's North Central CT/Western Mass. Chapter. The chapter's collective fundraising goal for this year's goal is to raise $1 million for research to find a cure for diabetes and its complications.

"Our continued involvement with the JDRF walk is rewarding on a very personal level", Morris said. "Rebecca was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes 11 years ago and we have other family members also affected. We know the impact it has on your life and on those who care about you. We want to stay involved and continue to do our part to support JDRF-funded research so our friends and loved ones who are battling this disease won't have to live with it their entire lifetime."

This is Morris' second year as the head coach for the UMASS football program. Members of the 2010-2011 Football Team will attend the JDRF Walk and sign autographs for walkers.

Wingo is well-known as one of the key figures behind ESPN's year-round coverage of the National Football League (NFL) and, although he doesn't have a personal connection to the disease, he knows others who do.

"JDRF is a highly-respected organization and finding a cure for diabetes is a cause that I'm proud to lend my name to," Wingo said. It's time to eliminate this horrible disease that impacts the lives of so many. I'm proud to be back with Kevin and Rebecca Morris to gather support for the Western Massachusetts walk."

JDRF's annual walk draws participation and support from families, companies, schools and civic organizations. The largest contingency on walk day is made up of entire families, from children to grandparents, many of whom take part in the fundraising efforts because of a family member living with type-1 diabetes. Fourteen million Americans have a personal connection to the disease.

In addition to the autograph session with the UMASS Minutemen Football Team, walk day offers breakfast and lunch, and entertainment that includes DJ Frank Pollard, the Forest Park Zoo, a visit from Six Flags costumed characters, face-painting and other children's activities.

When the event ends at noon, shuttles will run all afternoon and evening to take walkers to the Six Flags entrance and return them to their parking area.

On-site walk registration begins at 8:30 a.m. The 10a.m. walk through the park will be approximately two miles long, making it appropriate for all ages and abilities.

This year's top sponsors include: Six Flags New England, Channel 22 News, Mix93.1 WHYN, The Republican, Stop & Shop and Big Y World Class Market.

To participate in the Western Mass walk or to sponsor the event, build a Walk team, or obtain more information, visit or call 860-470-0020 or 888-533-9255. Walkers are invited to join Team UMASS or to form their own team on the JDRF website and raise funds.