The Washington Times - August 12, 2011, 09:58AM

Mystics guard Alana Beard is nothing if not a trooper. A superstar in the WNBA and a four-time all star, Beard has been working diligently to return to the court after an Achilles injury last season, and a left foot injury this season.

Just days ago, she re-injured her left foot during practice, and after consulting with her doctors and the Mystics, it was decided that Beard should shut it down for the season.


But even if we can’t see her on the court, we can see her on television in a very powerful and thought provoking public service campaign called “Dribble to Stop Diabetes.” Beard is joined by former NBA players Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Chris Dudley, and Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard.

“They approached me in January and asked me to be a spokesperson,” Beard said. Beard agreed, and went to work.

“In order to be passionate about something, to be connected to it, I felt I had to do some research,” Beard said.

She started by talking with her mother and father, and finding out about her own family history with the disease.

“I found out my grandfather had it,” Beard said. “My grandmother continued to get her sugar level checked. Where we fall short is that we don’t get the information we need to prevent diabetes. You can’t take action if you don’t get the information,” Beard said.

Beard is part of a multi-national media campaign with the NBA, the WNBA, the NBDL, the American Diabetes Association and sanofi-aventis U.S. The goal of the campaign is to urge people to live a healthy, active lifestyle, raise awareness about diabetes prevention and management, and educate people about health complications associated with diabetes.

“There are a lot of people out there who are at risk, or who already have diabetes, and they don’t know it because they have’t gotten themselves checked. Someone gets diabetes in this country every 20 seconds,” Beard said.

As a professional athlete, Beard already lives the healthy, active lifestyle she is helping to promote, but with her family history, is she worried about getting the disease herself someday?

“I’m a realist,” Beard said.

“All I can do is just keep living as healthy a lifestyle as I can, stay active, and just do my best to prevent it.”

Several WNBA teams have a Dribble to Stop Diabetes team night – the Mystics are holding theirs on Tuesday, August 23 in the game against the Los Angeles Sparks.

Go to the website and take the risk test. It takes about two minutes.