Rev Run and Wife Justine Make Diabetes Prevention a Family Affair

Your family can be the most important tool in your arsenal when it comes to preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes or managing existing symptoms.

Who better to encourage you to exercise, shop for healthy foods, and make smarter lifestyle choices than someone who loves you? And who better to do those things for than someone you love?

For Rev Run and his wife, Justine Simmons, the knowledge that it was up to them to serve as role models for their children and grandchildren made teaming up to raise diabetes awareness an easy choice.

Already partners on the DIY Network show “Rev Run’s Renovation,” the two are now partnered up for the Novo Nordisk campaign, a program devoted to raising awareness of the risk factors of diabetes to help give those who are at risk more control over their health.

(Rev Run, also known as DJ Run, is the stage name of Joseph Lloyd Simmons, one of the founding members of the famous hip-hop group Run-D.M.C. He is also an ordained Pentecostal minister.)

Rev has been the campaign’s spokesperson for the last year, and as he has started living a healthier lifestyle-“I’ve been very on top of my weight, and working out,” he said–Justine felt compelled to also make changes.

“If you do it as a family, you’ll break the cycle for the next generation,” she said.

Between them, the two have six children, three from Rev’s first marriage, and three together, as they just welcomed their first grandchild, a baby girl born just before Valentine’s Day to Rev’s oldest daughter, Vanessa.

Because they want to inspire healthy habits for their loved ones for years to come, the family now focuses on eating healthy-trading butter for olive oil, choosing fruit instead of cake despite Rev’s incurable sweet tooth-and exercising, despite Justine’s aversion to working out, to avoid developing type 2 diabetes.

“It’s important to stop the cycle, and it helps to do it as a team,” said Justine. “I hate working out, I’m not going to lie. But I want to be around for my kids and grandchildren. And that’s how you can break the chain.”

Type 2 as a Family Thing

Both have a paternal history of type 2 diabetes. Justine’s father is diabetic, as are many other members of her immediate family, and Rev’s father developed diabetes before he passed away-and as African-Americans, both faceg a much higher risk of developing the disease.

“As African-Americans, we are twice as likely to get diabetes,” said diabetes educator Jeannette Jordan, adding that in a room of six African-Americans, one will have diabetes, and that number is projected to grow. Also, African-Americans are more likely to develop kidney disease, more likely to experience blindness, and more likely to suffer lower-limb amputations, making diabetes awareness all the more critical.

“If we do nothing, our family history will impact our family’s future,” said Rev, who also appreciates the opportunity to raise awareness among his fan base.

“I am here to talk to people, to use my power and celebrity for something even greater,” said Rev, whose birthday falls on World Diabetes Day. “And I take it very seriously.”

The campaign is particularly vital since many of those who have diabetes don’t know it, and with each passing day are putting their health and wellness at risk.

“If people have diabetes, it can be managed,” said Jordan, adding that earlier detection can also prevent or delay complications such as foot and eye problems, among the most common complications related to diabetes.

Too, knowing whether or not you have diabetes restores control over your health.

“So many times people develop this fatalistic viewpoint, ‘my father had diabetes,’ or ‘my grandfather had it, so I will have it too,’ but it’s totally preventable,” said Jeanette. “And the earlier you know, the earlier you can do something about it.”

Small steps–a 20-minute daily walk combined with improved eating habits, experts say-can make a big difference in preventing or controlling diabetes, especially when making those changes as a family.

Healthy recipes, a guide to talking with your family about diabetes and a risk assessment test are available at Novo Nordisk’s site (

Those who take the risk assessment test, a short test determining risk factors that takes less than 60 seconds, will be entered into a sweepstakes to win a chance to meet Rev Run and Justine and take a private tour of their home, along with a two-day, one-night stay in New York City for two, which includes a meeting with a diabetes educator.

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