Jeremy Williamson, 33
Jeremy Williamson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 13. It almost killed him. Since then, the award-winning fitness model and motivational speaker has been on a mission to defeat America's No. 1 "silent killer." He is passionate about educating children about the disease:
When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I wanted to hide it! I wanted to be like everyone else. I was going into high school and that was tough.
Fortunately, my family backed me 100 percent. My mom was really over-protective that first year. But even though I hid it, I made sure I took care of myself. I carried my insulin and took it when I needed it. I played football, and the team looked out for me. They knew.
When I graduated, I promised myself that I would take care. I wanted to understand diabetes. This is the key to controlling the disease. The lesson is simple: Diabetes won't kill you unless you let it! Type 2 is beatable most of the time.
But Type 1, which I have, is different. You have to study to defeat it–every day. If diabetics don't learn that, they're defeating themselves. I tell kids that if they take the time to learn, they can beat diabetes.
The most important thing is to stabilize your blood sugar. Check your blood sugar regularly. Take your insulin. Learn about the foods you eat, when to eat them, and how much or little to eat.
I tell kids they can do this, if they take the time. To learn, be positive, keep clean, and keep going! We can find a cure for diabetes. It's exciting, especially what's going on at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, and the National Institutes of Health.