A1C Champion: Running to Inspire Hope

Jonathan R. Wald, DVM

Tens of thousands of runners pounded the pavement for the 21st Annual Walt Disney World Marathon held in Orlando, FL on January 12, 2014. But one runner in particular had something to prove during the 26.2 mile course around four Disney World Theme parks.

Jonathan R. Wald, DVM, is a fellow Gator-alum earning both his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Florida. An avid runner of 35 years, he has participated in numerous 5K and 10K races, but recently wanted to take on a new personal challenge.

At the age of 44, Wald was diagnosed with Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA); a disease with similar clinical features as Type 1 diabetes (T1D) but lacks a firm set of diagnostic criteria. LADA patients, in comparison with T1D individuals, are between the ages of 30–70 years at diagnosis. They also may have several different diabetes-associated autoantibodies present and tend to be non-insulin requiring for ≥6 months following diagnosis; (the latter of which can remain quite true for some LADA patients over an extended period of time…not in Jonathan’s case, however).1

In spite of having no insulin production for many years, Jonathan has been able to maintain excellent control of his diabetes. Now at age 55, his average HbA1C is between 5.6-5.8 and he is able to manage his medications by himself along with his primary care physician. “I was told by my endocrinologist when I was seeing him that I was consistently the lowest HbA1C he had ever had in a Type 1 diabetic,” he said.

What’s his secret? Jonathan says his success can be partly attributed to a persistent exercise routine that combines cardio workouts with muscle strength training. “Muscle does not require insulin for glucose uptake, so I use my muscles as a “glucose sink” to absorb my higher glucoses that might be occurring after meals. It works especially well in preventing that glucose rush exceeding 200mg/dl immediately after eating a piece of cake or a cookie,” he said.

The larger portion of his success stems from the support of his loving wife Melissa, two daughters, Danielle, age 18, and Lindsay, age 16, and his family pets: two golden retrievers, a Shire horse, a turtle and fish. “My family gave me a tremendous amount of support for the challenges I faced while training.”

In running the Walt Disney World Marathon, Jonathan hopes to inspire others to accomplish their dreams and show that diabetes does not have to “run” your life. “If I can help other diabetics with my story that would be great!” he said.


1. Leslie RD, Kolb H, Schloot NC, et al. Diabetes classifi cation: grey zones, sound and smoke: Action LADA 1. Diabetes Metab Res Rev 20 08; 24: 511–19.