Walking to stay alive: Man with Type 2 diabetes says "I want to live to be 150!"

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Walking to stay alive. That's what a Milwaukee man is doing to fight the 7th leading cause of death in Americans: diabetes. He shared his message on the American Diabetes Association Alert Day.

85-year-old Ed Vidmar has been walking at Greendale's Southridge Mall for 10 years -- since the day he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. With his blood sugar off the charts, he was admitted to Froedtert's ICU.

"They had big bottles of insulin flowing right into me and they said 'this guy is not going to make it,'" Vidmar said.

More than a quarter of people with diabetes (eight million people) don't know they have it, according to the American Diabetes Association. The most common form is Type 2 and it's often brought on by obesity.

"If you go down to the mall and you look at people, you can tell who is at risk just by how much 'truncal adiposity' they have, or how much weight they carry around the middle compared to below the belt," said Dr. Paul Knudson with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Dr. Knudson says it all comes down to self management: staying active and controlling your diet.

"They estimate it takes about 14 hours a week to maintain good self management habits, so it's not an easy thing to do," said Dr. Knudson.

Vidmar walks about 2.5 miles at the mall six days a week. He says he does it to keep his heart rate up and to burn calories.

"I want to live to be 150," Vidmar said.

Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin recently received a $1.4 million grant for diabetes research.

The American Diabetes Association Alert Day runs through April 21st.