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Men's fight against diabetes honored by Cheswick-Springdale Lions Club

| Monday, Aug. 24, 2009

Diagnosed six years ago with Type 2 diabetes, Edmund Watson decided he might be able to help others who have the disease.

Among other initiatives, Watson started to raise money for the American Diabetes Association through a recycling effort.

The Richland Township resident installed recycling bins near his Cheswick-based businesses, asked the community to drop off old newspapers and magazines, and donated the proceeds from recycling the materials to the diabetes association.

It's an effort that's still generating revenue for diabetes research.

It's also an effort that caught the attention of Cheswick-Springdale Lions Club, which presented Watson and close friend and fundraising partner Mark Funkhouser with an award for volunteerism.

"These two men went above and beyond the call of duty," club President Dave Finley said. "They've raised thousands and thousands of dollars for the American Diabetes Association. And they didn't seek notoriety in doing it."

Finley and other Lions members honored Watson and Funkhouser with the club's Elizabeth Prohaska Yanni Award. Finley said the club started presenting the award more than 16 years ago to community members who serve others.

Watson, 67, and Funkhouser, 53, of Springdale are not Lions Club members. Lions officials said it's rarely a club member who wins the award.

"This was unexpected," Funkhouser said of the honor.

A lifelong friend of Watson's, Funkhouser started a benefit golf tournament three years ago to raise money for the diabetes association.

The annual outing happens in the summer at Lenape Heights Golf Course near Ford City. Funkhouser said there's no set date for the event.

Watson and Funkhouser said they've raised about $20,000 during the last several years through the golf tournament, recycling program and smaller fundraising efforts.

"Mark is a lifelong friend of mine and my right-hand man when it comes to this," Watson said. "He's just been a good friend to me all these years."

Funkhouser, a senior lab technician at PPG in Springdale, doesn't have diabetes but said it was important for him to support Watson in raising money to combat the disease.

Steve Shivak, executive director of the American Diabetes Association of Western Pennsylvania, spoke highly of Watson and Funkhouser's efforts.

"I wish we could clone them," Shivak said.

The money Watson and Funkhouser raise is funneled into local research efforts, Shivak said.

More than $10 million has been spent on diabetes research in Western Pennsylvania over the past five years, he said.

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