Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

March 16, 2014

Bret Michaels reaches out to diabetic young people before show

EFFINGHAM — Effingham resident Beth Andes wanted to give diabetic children a person to look up to — someone who would inspire them.

The desire to do that led her to rock singer and television personality Bret Michaels. Michaels was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 6. The rocker, who celebrated his 51st birthday Saturday at the Effingham Performance Center, is now a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association. Andes, a juvenile diabetes activist and owner of Andes Health Mart Pharmacy along with husband Chip, sponsored the Birthday Bash event.

"I chose to sponsor it so the kids could meet him," she said. "It's always nice for them to meet someone who had Type 1 diabetes since he was young and see what he has accomplished and see that they can accomplish anything they want with this disease."

Prior to the concert, a group of area youth diagnosed with diabetes met with Michaels outside his tour bus after he arrived at the Effingham Performance Center. Michaels spoke with each one and posed for photos before the group headed back inside for the show. For the former Poison lead singer, diabetes has been a lifelong struggle.

"I'm

not going to tell anyone it's a piece of cake because it's not," he said. "It's

mind over matter. With diabetes you have to be physically on your

game. Before I came out to do this, I had a low blood sugar and all

of a sudden you're saying 'don't let it flip you out.'"

Michaels has dealt with a fair share of struggles outside of his diabetes diagnosis, between a brain hemorrhage in 2010 and later that year the discovery of a hole in his heart, which may have contributed to what doctors called "a warning stroke." Michaels said he spends as much time as possible exercising and encourages young people diagnosed with the disease to come to terms with their condition and work to control it.

"In

some ways, look at it as the card you're dealt," he said. "There's nothing you

can do about that. There's been so many advances in how you deal with

it since I was a kid."

Until a cure is reached, Michaels encourages those with the disease to manage it.

"Don't let it own

you. You better try to own it."

One teen has been inspired by the impact Michaels has had on diabetes awareness and his ability to overcome it.

"As a diabetic, it's good to see someone who has accomplished so much and had such a huge impact on music," said 16-year-old Elizabeth Brackney, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes nine years ago. "I know that it's not just me. There are a lot of other people out there with this disease, even in Effingham."

Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, at jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com or via Twitter @EDNJAdams.

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