SAVANNAH, GA—Celebrity chef and restaurateur Paula Deen announced Monday that her recently launched Step for a Cure Foundation would host its first annual .05K fun walk on May 20 to raise money for Type 2 diabetes research.
The star of the Food Network shows Paula's Home Cooking and Paula's Best Dishes said the .031-mile course would cover a half block of Whitaker Street in Savannah's Historic District and would be open to walkers of all skill levels.
"Diabetes is a devastating condition that keeps folks from enjoying a regular lifestyle and doing things they love, but with y'all's support, we can help the doctors get this disease licked," said Deen, who hopes to raise $500,000 with the event and has asked donors to sponsor walkers with a pledge of $1 to $5 per step. "This .05K walk may be one heck of a challenge, but it's for such a good cause I'm darn sure gonna finish it."
"Plus I want to show people that just because you're diabetic doesn't mean you can't get out there and move around a little," Deen added.
Deen, who has suffered from the disorder since 2009 but only recently revealed her diagnosis while endorsing a diabetes drug for a pharmaceutical manufacturer, told reporters she had begun an exhausting training regimen to prepare for the 164-foot event, walking slowly on a treadmill for up to 15 seconds each day.
According to the food media mogul who made a name for herself by drinking straight liquid butter on television, the .05K should take about an hour to complete and will provide a fun family atmosphere, with a band playing at the halfway point and walkers at the starting line being cheered on by spectators at the nearby finish line.
In addition, Deen assured participants the walking route would include 32 water and aid stations, which will serve deep-fried, melt-in-your-mouth garlic cheese biscuits "just in case anybody gets the butter tingles."
"This is a fundraiser, not a race, so it's important to make sure nobody gets too winded or wears out their little ol' legs," said the bestselling author of a children's cookbook that suggests eating cheesecake for breakfast. "Just go at your own pace. Nobody needs to walk fast or anything."
"I'm sure I'll stop and rest part way and take a 20-minute breather myself," Deen added. "It's easy to lose steam once you hit that wall around step 72."
In an effort to limit the depletion of energy in walkers' muscles during the "fatiguing" 1,969-inch hike, Deen suggested all participants load up on carbohydrates by eating a pan of her famous homemade batter-dipped French fries the night before the walk.
"We're asking folks to give whatever they can to help out, because if there's a more urgent cause than finding a cure for adult-onset diabetes, I sure as heck don't know what it is," said Deen, explaining that part of the fun-walk proceeds would be used to purchase insulin so those afflicted with the disease can continue eating as many "yummy treats" as they desire. "Ain't it just the worst?"
"Believe me, honey, I know how sad it is to say 'no thank you' to that second pan of brownies, or reduce your mayonnaise intake by a quart," Deen continued.