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When Celebrities – Like Bret Michaels – Show True Grit, the Whole World Benefits

By Stacy Jenel Smith

hollywoodnews.com: Will Bret Michaels make the live finale of “Celebrity Apprentice” tonight – exactly one month and two days after the brain hemorrhage that could easily have killed him? And within days of his “warning stroke” and the discovery of a hole in his heart?

If anyone can pull off such a feat, rock and reality star Michaels is a good bet. He learned to battle through physical challenges from the time he was six and was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.

“When you’re five to eight years old and you find out you’re going to have to take insulin for the rest of your life, its pretty depressing. It’s heartbreaking,” he recalled in an interview a couple of years back. “But I just looked at it and embraced it. I said, ‘I’m still going to go out and enjoy my life. I’m still going to make music and ride motorcycles and get tattoos.’ I just gotta work a hell of a lot harder to take care of myself.”

Michaels says being able to go to a camp for diabetics as a child made all the difference in his world. “My mom was one of the counselors and later I was a counselor at a diabetic camp in Pennsylvania. I go back there every so many years to say ‘This is how I did it. This is what you gotta do.’”

He’s also actively raised funds for kids to go to such camps in various ways. In 2005, an unorthodox campaign — with the mark of Michaels’ creativity now familiar to “Apprentice” fans — involved selling a controversial t-shirt that had a photo of him shirtless on the front and the words, “Bret Michaels Diabetic,” along with the number of injections he’d taken as of the day they shot the picture – some 253, 210. And then the words, “Fear Nothing: Survive It.”

Michaels is displaying that same kind of courage and grit getting through his current crisis, and in so doing, he’s serving as an inspiration to millions.

When so often the media is focused on negative role models of the celebrity world, it’s worth noting that there are dozens of personalities, like Michaels, who set examples of courage and perseverance every year. Speaking of those who’ve faced diabetes as just one example, we have the likes of Halle Berry, Mary Tyler Moore, Gary Owens and Nick Jonas, who has played his touching “A Little Bit Longer” song not only in concerts around the world, but at diabetes fund-raisers.

Michael C. Hall, Christina Applegate and Cynthia Nixon have joined the ranks of cancer survivors who advocate for early detection, along with Olivia Newton-John, Melissa Etheridge, Tom Green and a number of others.

Uterine cancer survivor Fran Drescher found that in her case, “There is a silver lining of cancer. Being a survivor has given a purpose to my life and an importance to my fame that works in astounding way I could never have imagined.”

Michael J. Fox continues the fight for a Parkinson’s Disease cure.

Basketball great turned movie theater mogul Magic Johnson has been living with HIV for 19 years now, and providing hope for long and productive lives to others dealing with the disease.

Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen, whose astonishing comeback from the automobile accident that cost him an arm inspires in itself, is constantly active in helping other amputees – particularly Iraq War veterans — through his Raven Drum Foundation.

The examples go on and on.

Even more than five years after his death, the late Christopher Reeve continues to inspire.

To read more go to becksmithhollywood.com”> becksmithhollywood.com

About Beck / Smith

Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith are among America’s leading columnists. They’ve covered the Hollywood beat for decades — Elvis and “Easy Rider” through the Jonas Bros. and “Avatar” and all the stars and their triumphs and scandals in-between. Their Creators Syndicate column, Beck/Smith Hollywood Exclusive, is a source of top celebrity interviews and entertainment news in newspapers across the country as well as online. To read more about Marylin and Stacy go to BeckSmithHollywood.com

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One Comment

  • May 25, 2010 | Permalink |

    Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen and Bret Michaels, as well as the other celebrities listed, definitely help to spread the word and they can help change lives in the process.

    For information on diabetes and limb loss, amputation, prosthetics, and the ACA Peer Visitor program, please contact the nonprofit organization Amputee Coalition of America at 888/267-5669 or visit them at Amputee-Coalition.org.

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