Carmel Valley resident Natalja Karol decided to do something different for her birthday this year.

The online fundraisers are becoming increasingly popular but Natalja, an event manager who understands the value of face to face interaction in today’s virtual world, rallied up friends and neighbors to come out on October 6th, 2018 and exercise together to raise awareness for Type 2 diabetes prevention as well as raise money for her favorite non-profit: The Skinny Gene Project (SGP). SGP is a San Diego based award winning non-profit with a mission to educate and empower others to prevent Type 2 Diabetes. SGP has been a driving force in influencing the policy when it comes to these services.

Natalja has partnered with a local workout place in Carmel Valley: the Cyclebar, a new fun cycling experience in the community which regularly offers charity rides and donates 100% of these rides to the non-profit of choice. Cyclebar’s Owner and Operating Manager Praful Srivastava has keen interest in Type 2 diabetes and he is able to keep his condition under control without medication, thanks to healthy diet and exercise. Three years ago, Natalja lowered her A1C levels to no longer pre-diabetic by losing 14 lbs at the local gym.

(An A1C test is a blood test that reflects your average blood glucose levels over the past 3 months. The A1C test is sometimes called the hemoglobinA1C, HbA1c, glycated hemoglobin, or glycohemoglobin test. Hemoglobin is the part of a red blood cell that carries oxygen to the cells.

An A1C level below 5.7 percent is considered normal. An A1C level between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes. An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates type 2 diabetes.)

Losing just 5-7% of body weight reduces your risk of developing diabetes by 58%.

“In California, more than 13 million adults (46 percent of all adults in the state) are estimated to have prediabetes or undiagnosed diabetes. An additional 2.5 million adults have diagnosed diabetes. Altogether, 15.5 million adults (55 percent of all California adults) have prediabetes or diabetes. Although rates of prediabetes increase with age, rates are also high among young adults, with one-third of those ages 18-39 having prediabetes. In addition, rates of prediabetes are disproportionately high among young adults of color, with more than one-third of Latino, Pacific Islander, American Indian, African-American, and multiracial Californians ages 18-39 estimated to have prediabetes. Policy efforts should focus on reducing the burden of prediabetes and diabetes through support for prevention and treatment.” Source:

While the epidemic is mostly silent, the long-term effects of Type 2 diabetes are as devastating as the cost of healthcare.

“It breaks my heart that over $670 billion is spent on diabetes ($245 Billion in the US alone),- says Marlayna Bollinger, the Founder and Executive Director of SGP, – Yet, 5 million people die each year because of a disease that is 70% preventable.  Diabetes is a huge (and growing) problem, but I feel good knowing that I get up everyday and choose to be a part of the solution.”

This year SGP got it’s third consecutive award from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)  which  placed this non-profit among the top 2.5% of all hospitals, clinics, and community based organizations that offer an evidence-based diabetes prevention program.

If you would like to make lifestyle changes, you can log on the website and fill out the form to become one of the SGP clients. Thanks to recent changes in the policy, many insurance companies cover lifestyle programs. But this fundraiser will benefit the SGP clients who have no means to pay for the program.

Many of Natalja’s and SGP friends came to rock the ride (Cyclebar’s motto) and those who couldn’t come, supported with donations. The following businesses also supported the ride with generous in kind gifts: Carmel Valley Liquor Deli, Pushkin Restaurant, Mariya’s European Skin Care, 3D Yoga, Relax Studio Massage,Young Living Independent Distributor Mary-Rose Granado, Crown Dance Studio, David London Graphic Design, Ghiasi Designs, Romantic Rose Floral and Décor the-romanticrose.comand, of course, Cyclebar.

As a result of the partnership that October 6 the SGP charity ride helped foster, a Carmel Valley Cyclebar will offer 30% discount off it’s membership to SGP clients. “We love the idea of having different establishments promoting exercise in a really fun and innovative way, “- said Marlayna. – That’s how together we make difference to prevent Type 2 diabetes.”

November is the diabetes awareness month.  If you want to be a part of solution, too, please join the team Skinny Gene at the 5th annual Solana Beach Sunset run/ walk on November 10th, 2018 make a donation on to support their evidence-based programs.