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Hero Total Inspiration Flavia Llizo of American Diabetes Association is doing everything she can to raise awareness for the cause she is so passionate about. What’s even more remarkable is that she’s also on a mission to inspire people to make the world a better place by getting involved in whatever way they can. T e x t by Jacq uely n B enso n Ph otos co ur t e sy o f ADA 46 F lavia Llizo wants the world to know that diabetes is no joke. “Every 17 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes, a disease that kills more Americans each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined,” she says. As Executive Director in Miami for the American Diabetes Association [ADA], she has spent the last 8 years helping educate adults and children about the prevention and management of this increasingly prevalent disease. “Current estimates project that as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes by 2050,” she says. “That’s not a future we are willing to accept.” A Miami native, Llizo has spent over 15 years working with non-profits, and with ADA, she has a particularly personal connection. “My mother was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes,” she says. “Oddly enough, even though I’ve been involved with the ADA for such a long time, I still have difficulty in getting my 71-year-old mother to follow the guidelines set by the organization regarding nutrition.” For Llizo, it’s a daily reminder of how the disease needs to he actively managed every day. When not working with ADA, Llizo enjoys spending time with her family: children Tommy, Justin and Ashlee and her husband of 21 years, Roly. “I don’t know that any one person inspired me to help others,” she admits. “I’ve always been of the mindset that giving back is something everyone should and can do. Not everyone has the means to donate lots of money to a cause, but a few dollars goes a long way for those in need. Others can give their time, their knowledge or share their stories. If everyone gave of themselves, just a little bit, we would live in a much better world.” Llizo hopes her work with ADA will help raise awareness about diabetes in the Miami area, and bring more resources to the project of educating people about preventing the disease and on positively impacting the lives of those already affected. “We want people to know that ADA is here and that our focus is diabetes research, advocacy, education and prevention,” she says. This June, Llizo and her colleagues at ADA will help host the “Father of the Year Awards” with the Miami Father’s Day Council, an event that brings attention to outstanding dads while raising money for an important cause. The event, which takes place on June 8 at the Intercontinental in Downtown Miami, raised more than $200,000 last year. “To truly change the trajectory of this disease, it will take the bold commitment of a strong, passionate network of individuals, organizations and communities united behind a single goal to stop diabetes,” she says. To get involved or to find out about fundraising events and volunteer opportunities in your area, call 305.477.8999 or visit Diabetes.org.