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It Will Never Happen to Me: Thoughts of a Non-Compliant Diabetic

“My brother was a non-compliant diabetic”. These are the opening words of the YAHOO video that was done on my company RonWear Port-able Clothing.  I go onto say “I think he never thought that he could get as bad as he did”.  “He” was my brother Ron.  Ron had diabetes.

‘Non-Compliant Diabetic”–what is that?, people ask me.  Its a diabetic who doesn’t comply to the things they should do to improve their health or keep the diabetes at bay.  That’s the term I gave my brother Ron, namesake of RonWear Port-able Clothing.

It didn’t have to be that way.  He loved food.  He watched the cooking channel all the time.   He was a very young 61 year old.  He was handsome and had a quick wit about him.  He could get on your case, give you advice, was knowledgeable about everything, had a hint of sarcasm in his voice; he would mess around and sing opera like Pavarotti to the tune of “The Impossible Dream”.  He loved to goof around.  He loved to fix things–especially remodel houses, or fix cars. He cooked–weird concoctions–like putting ketchup in almost everything.   Or Salsa.  And when he would say “taste this”….you never knew what exactly you were getting.  He could tell a story about a great plate of food in a favorite restaurant like it was the million dollar lottery ticket.  He had his favorites:  chicken and noodles from KFC.   Spaghetti.  Lots of spaghetti.  Sometimes it had ketchup on it (cringe), sometimes salsa and Prego, or Ragu, or both, or all three!   He made a career out of eating.

Now, Ron was not heavy.  He kept a nice weight, and would exercise at a gym he signed up to.  He really couldn’t go regularly, due to leg ulcers and over all weakness at times, but he tried the best he could.   Ron’s downfall was his addiction to food.  Even in the thick of his last year, he was in 3 hospitals and 2 nursing homes with a list of ‘text-book’ symptoms of a diabetic:  floaters on the eyes (leading to 21 laser surgeries), heart attack (including a cardiac arrest episode which he miraculously survived without consequence to the surprise of the hospital staff), TIA’s (mini strokes), leg ulcers (where he received 22 hyperbolic oxygen treatments to heal his leg wounds), a tube in his gall bladder, fluid on the lungs (that had to be drained a couple times), a feeding tube in the end, and 2 months before he died, a leg amputation from above the knee.   He spent exactly one year, almost to the day, in either a hospital or nursing home.  His attitude was that he would beat this, but years of eating incorrectly (high sugar diet, adjusting his blood sugar with insulin or candy or orange juice when it bottomed out) led to Ron’s demise.

So many of us think, ‘that will never happen to me’.   It saddens me that what I believe, in watching Ron, over so many years was the fact that he actually was ‘uninformed’.  I truly believe that he didn’t understand the big picture of diabetes.  Somewhere, among the several hospitals he was in, as well as the nursing homes, Ron was not thoroughly educated about his disease.   I think his doctors took his ailments relating to his diabetes in a case-by-case basis, and everyone thought ‘the initial doctor’–the one who diagnosed him–explained the journey of a diabetic.  Not so.  Ron was diagnosed around his mid-50’s (early 1990’s) and was given a prescription to help regulate his blood sugar.  By the time the prescription was empty,  he felt better.  He never renewed the prescription, and thought he was ‘cured’.  Complications over the years set in, and pills turned into insulin shots, and then the other issues occurred.   He wanted to get better, he wanted to reverse these things, but once he understood what had happened to him, it was too late.  Education could have been a key factor in Ron’s journey.  

Diabetes is a new lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to be devastating.  My oldest brother Bill, is living proof that by watching your diet and keeping regular check ups, and taking your medicine regularly, you can live with diabetes without major complications.  Onset of diabetes at an older age is harder because you have maintained a lifestyle of eating a certain way.  Little changes in diet, and exercise (even little amounts of walking a day) help make the journey so much better. There is a lot of information available today on diabetes; not so much 20 years ago when my brother Ron was diagnosed.  

A site I recommend, of many, is Diabetic Living Online .  There is a lot of information there from foods and recipes to checking your sugar, medication and weight loss. It can be a great help to get you started.  Little changes can make a difference in your life.  Begin now by being conscious about what you eat, and learn how you can get in a couple more steps into your daily routine for exercise.   You’ll be surprised how it can help in the long run.  Refuse to allow diabetes to take over your life.  Be a ‘compliant’ diabetic.

The YAHOO! RonWear Story:


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Give a Kidney for Christmas – Why Not?

My son-in-law Larry Landes is a great gift giver.

In 2003 his mothers kidneys failed at the age of 73.  She began going to dialysis treatments three times a week but her health deteriorated quickly. She had a stroke and needed surgery to remove her diseased kidneys before a transplant could be considered. She was older than the typical recipient and her health was poor.  She was not a typical kidney recipient.

Larry and Mary Lou Landes

Larry was not a typical donor.  Newly married, two younger children from a previous marriage, recently promoted to a senior position at his company, and an avid dirt bike rider since he was a kid.  After a lot of soul-searching, research and talking, Larry gave his mother one of his kidneys on May 19, 2004.

Everyday the list gets longer for those waiting to receive a kidney.  What are you waiting for… more about how Larry made his decision at  I hope this will make it easier for anyone else struggling with donating a kidney.

Bill Smith, COO, RonWear Portable Clothing


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Mission: Small Business Accomplished!

Last evening Chase hosted an event at Severance Hall in Cleveland for their private clients and RonWear was one of their honored guests.  This year, RonWear was one of the 12 recipients of Chases Mission: Small Business grant;  a community initiative that provides grant money to small, entrepreneurial endeavors that show great promise. Deb Stanzak the owner and founder of RonWear was invited to talk about our company’s entrepreneurial journey.

Every entrepreneurial endeavor takes a lot of people to make it successful.  From RonWears inception we have been fortunate to have many who have donated their time, their contacts, their support, their ideas, and most importantly their money.  The money requirements of a startup remind me of the constant refrain of Audrey II the mysterious plant in the movie, Little Shop of Horrors…”feed me, feed me, feed me” .  This perfectly describes the cash flow needs of a young growing business like RonWear.

We will be forever grateful for the Chase Mission: Small Business grant.  It “fed us” when we needed cash nourishment to grow our business.  Far beyond the money it provided us with access to very talented people like Jim Guither and his staff. They have provided counsel, networking connections, public relations support and much, much more.

Through the visibility Chase provided we were given homepage positioning on Yahoo over Black Friday.  This resulted in one of our largest traffic and sales day in our history.  Through the credibility of the grant we were able to attract another investor.  Each day a new door opens as a result of our association with Chase.

If you are a young company, Chase makes a great partner.  They nurture, support and help grow companies.  They understand the impact small businesses have on the growth of the economy.  Through their Mission:Small Business they are demonstrating their understanding and support of this vital segment of business ownership.  As the COO of RonWear I want to personally thank everyone at Chase for their innovative thinking and actions and for giving us the honor of being one of the first recipients of their Small Business grants.

Give them a call?  You won’t regret it.

Bill Smith, COO RonWear

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Brothers Dying Wish Granted!

Brothers Dying Wish

RonWear Port-able Clothing started as a wish from a brother with renal failure to a clothing line for dialysis and kidney patients. We recently had the good fortune to be featured on Yahoo’s front page banner. Thank you Yahoo for making this dream come true to many other patients suffering from this challenging disease. All of us at RonWear are dedicated to making the discomfort of the treatment room more manageable with our line of treatment clothing. To order go to

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Join us June 5 for The National Kidney Foundation Walk on Whiskey Island

It Only Takes a Short Walk to make a difference!  The National Kidney Foundation’s Kidney Walk is a fun, inspiring, community fundraiser which calls attention to the prevention of kidney disease and the need for organ donation. It’s also an opportunity for patients, family, friends and businesses to come together to support the millions of Americans with chronic kidney disease.

Thanks to the money raised through the walks, NKF is able to offer free health screenings for kidney disease, public and professional education programs, advocacy to make patients’ voices heard through legislative action, and a vital research program to identify new clinical treatments.

Dozens of walks are scheduled across the country.  Join us now and make a differece!

Photo and content: National Kidney Foundation Walk

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JDRF Walk To Cure Diabetes

JDRF Walk To Cure Diabetes


Since the founding of JDRF in 1970, the organization’s largest and most successful fundraising program, the Walk to Cure Diabetes, has raised over 90 million dollars to go towards Type 1 diabetes research. Kevin Kline invites you to pitch in and punch up the numbers.