CEO of area business Picture Wellness Maurice Saliba is working with UTC leaders to launch a diabetes prevention program in Chattanooga, but he needs to raise money to start the efforts, which he is sure will change lives. 

Last fall, Saliba worked with 139 state employees on diabetes prevention. He followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and after 16 weeks, 28 percent of the participants had lost 5 percent of their body weight. 

The program targets people who have prediabetes and aims to prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes.  

According to the CDC, the program can help people cut their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in half. 

Letter of support 

Click here to read a letter of support for the program. 

Now, he's working with UTC's Dr. Gary Liguori to help 300 people in Chattanooga, but he needs help from partners and sponsors. He needs to raise $75,000 to support the one-year program. 

That money doesn't all have to come from one place or at one time, he said. 

"Even if we could get a third of that money in the next 30 days, we can launch," he said. 

Once the money is raised, his plan is to kick off the program with a "massive" health fair, where leaders will test individuals' body weights and other factors. 

He will then pick 300 people—those at the most risk, with the highest body mass indexes—to participate in the yearlong program, which has a curriculum approved by the CDC.  

During the program, participants will have an exercise component two times a week and a nutritional support group once a week. 

Saliba is passionate about the possible impacts of the program. He said there is potential for it to cut insurance costs and help people nationwide.

If the program is successful, it could be duplicated around the country. 

"This has the potential to be the largest on-the-ground research," he said. "This has the potential to really make an impact on a national level."