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Diabetes Awareness Scores Points with WNBA President Laurel J. Richie

Sharing a personal connection to diabetes

Laura KolodjeskiLaura Kolodjeski

Previously, my colleague Gipper Monson shared how Sanofi US is partnering with organizations like the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), National Basketball Association (NBA) and American Diabetes Association to raise awareness of diabetes through the Dribble to Stop Diabetes campaign.

With the kick-off of the WNBA season this week, I thought it would be a great time to chat with their President Laurel J. Richie about the campaign, the WNBA, and her background.

Q: Why do you think it’s important for the NBA and WNBA to be involved in programs like Dribble to Stop Diabetes?

A: One of the principal goals of both leagues is to help improve lives in communities around the world, and health and wellness initiatives are at the core of that mission. With an obesity epidemic tearing through our communities and a fan base whose core constituencies include those disproportionately affected by diabetes (in people of color), we’ve made battling this disease a priority. Many of our players and employees, including me, have had family members who have been directly impacted, so they have a very personal interest in taking action to stop the rise of diabetes.

Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever with WNBA President Laurel Richie
Indiana Fever player, Tamika Catchings and WNBA President, Laurel Richie

Q: Can you tell us about your personal connection to diabetes?

A: My mom was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when she was in her 50s. As a part of her treatment plan, she altered her diet and exercise regimens to help manage her condition, underscoring just how important it is for all of us to take control of our health and to lead healthy lifestyles.

Q: One mission of the Dribble to Stop Diabetes program is to get kids moving, why is that such an important outcome?

A: Our research has shown that kids who get involved with basketball when they are young are much more likely to stay active throughout their lives. People who are active generally have overall better health, and excel not just on the court, but in their careers and many other facets of their lives. When kids learn that exercise is not a chore, but rather a fun thing that they can do alone or with others, they’re much more likely to make it a part of their permanent routines and enjoy all the benefits that go with it.

Q: What do the WNBA players and WNBA staff like most about participating in Dribble to Stop Diabetes events?

A: A chance to support a cause they care about, a chance to get out into the communities in which we compete, and a chance to change a child’s life for the better by introducing them to a fun way to keep fit.

I have had wonderful experiences at Dribble to Stop Diabetes events in San Antonio and Atlanta, and I’m looking forward to participating in more events this coming season. Not only do I get to enjoy the real sense of partnership between the WNBA, NBA, American Diabetes Association and Sanofi US Diabetes, but the events give me a chance to practice my basketball fundamentals.

Q: Which WNBA player inspires you most?

A: It’s really impossible to choose one player. I’m inspired by all of our players. They are outstanding athletes, competing at the highest level; role models who understand the importance of doing their personal best while contributing to team success on the court and giving back to their communities off of it.

That is what they have in common, but they are a very diverse group of individuals with broad interests and talents:

  • Cappie Pondexter of the New York Liberty is a fashion designer
  • Tammy Sutton-Brown of the Indiana Fever is a children’s book author
  • Seimone Augustus of the Minnesota Lynx is a lay mechanic who restores old Chevy Impalas
  • Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever is the founder of Catchin24, a thriving nonprofit organization
  • Kara Lawson of the Connecticut Sun is an ESPN on-camera commentator

Q: Finally, before you came to the WNBA last May, you were the Chief Marketing Officer for the Girl Scouts of the USA, so I have to know, what’s your favorite kind of Girl Scout cookie?

A: Thin Mints, preferably from the freezer – always in moderation, of course!

Well, we certainly have that in common – Thin Mints from the freezer are just the best! Laurel also has me excited for the upcoming basketball season and it’s always great to hear about the positive impact of the Dribble to Stop Diabetes events! A special thanks to Laurel for taking the time to discuss the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle along with her support of diabetes awareness efforts.

All the best,

Laura K.


Disclosure: Laurel J. Richie received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.

The Dribble to Stop Diabetes campaign is a Sanofi US Diabetes partnership with the NBA, NBA D-League, WNBA and the American Diabetes Association.


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