Actor Ben Vereen, known for his Tony Award-winning work on Broadway and his role in "Roots," is headed to town Monday to accept an award from the American Diabetes Association for his work on behalf of the disease.
Prior to his diagnosis in 2007, Vereen's only experience with diabetes was playing a character with diabetes on the show "Webster." "It shook me," he said of the diagnosis. "I said, 'How am I going to live with this?' "
Through the nonprofit Taking Control of Your Diabetes, Vereen formed STAND, or Start Taking Action Now for Diabetes, a platform to open up a dialogue on the disease.
STAND, which is funded by Sanofi US, has had no assistance from the government, despite President Obama's shout-out to diabetes during his 2008 campaign, Vereen points out.
"When Barack Obama was debating against Sen. McCain, he said the first thing we have to do is we have to do something about diabetes in this country," he said. But Vereen isn't disappointed with Obama for not making diabetes a priority during his term.
"He's had his own problems," Vereen said with a chuckle. "We have to do it on our own here."