He sings, he dances and he can act. His name is Ben Vereen and he’s a diabetic. This star of stage and screen has taken his story to the people, and the people are listening.
Vereen struggled in his own past. He found out he was adopted in 1960 when applying for a passport to travel. His daughter died. He struggled with alcoholism. A car struck him. Had to learn to speak again after the accident, and more recently was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Today Vereen is in his 60’s, has a couple of movies and television movies that will debut soon and his one man show featuring music of Sammy Davis Jr. is a success. But according to DallasNews.com Vereen has a new message when it comes to diabetes, “Turn it around.”
Vereen also had a tough message for those who chose to consider themselves a victim of diabetes, “We need to stop seeing diabetes as a challenge or something that we suffer from, but rather it’s an opportunity to live a better life by taking better care of ourselves.”
To demonstrate his level of commitment to fighting diabetes Vereen has partnered with Sanofi-aventis to create an organization S.T.A.N.D. for Diabetes (Start Taking Action Now for Diabetes). The movement is self-described this way, “Whether you are an influencer in the world of entertainment, medicine, public health, or marketing, or someone living with or affected by diabetes in some way, we want you to look for opportunities in your daily activities to spread the message and become part of this movement. We challenge you to think differently about diabetes and imagine new ways to raise awareness about the disease and the importance of better blood sugar control NOW.”
Vereen is clear that it is his influence he plans on using to spread the news about diabetes, its causes, its struggles and ways to fight back. This is the call he makes to all of us – use whatever influence we have to reverse the trend of diabetes in our world.
According to a S.T.A.N.D. press release Vereen said, “When I was first diagnosed I did the things my doctor recommended — watching my diet, exercising more and taking my diabetes medication — but I wasn’t comfortable checking my blood sugar in public, but I’ve overcome my discomfort with the help of friends and family because I’ve learned that it’s so essential to control my blood sugar. Now checking my blood sugar is as comfortable as using my cell phone and my blood sugar is under control!”
Pointing to his optimistic nature Vereen refers to his condition as “lifeabetes.”
One of the key ways S.T.A.N.D. encourages others to influence is through social media like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. These mediums are a preferred way for many to communicate making them an incredibly potent tool in spreading the news both personally and in wall posts or tweets.
The key reason this is suggested is because it’s easy for everyone to do. There is no need to speak publicly (unless you’re gifted to do so and want to). There is no need to lobby congress (unless you are determined to do so). This is effectively a 21st century attempt at a grassroots movement that spreads the news and invites people to action. People like Ben Vereen – people like you.