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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Three years ago, when West Virginia was leading the nation in diabetes, the American Diabetes Association shut down its West Virginia office.
State volunteers could not come up with the yearly fundraising goal of more than $100,000 set by the national organization, the former state board chairwoman said.
"We tried to raise it, but we came up short," said Jennifer Honnaker of Huntington.
Now, officials have decided to bring the organization back to West Virginia, ADA Division Vice President Lew Bartfield said.
"I can make a commitment that we will have an office in West Virginia by next January," he told the Gazette-Mail.
"That would be great," Honnaker said. "We need all the help we can get with diabetes education in this state."
An estimated quarter-million West Virginians have diabetes, diagnosed or undiagnosed.
Three years ago, "like everyone else, we were a victim of the economic downturn," Bartfield said. "Nationally, our fundraising was down, and we had to cut back somewhere."
"It was an ill-advised and very wrong decision to close the office in the first place," Honnaker said. "I know it comes down to money, but sometimes you have to look at other things."
There are about 270,000 diabetics -- at least one in six residents -- in West Virginia, and the state leads the nation in diabetes and obesity, according to the 2011 Gallup Healthways survey. In the 2010 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rankings, West Virginia ranked third for diabetes.
"When we had a full-time ADA staff person, she could keep track of available services statewide, so we connected a lot of people with help," Honnaker said, "but now, nobody really knows where the services are."