Lubbock 12 year old launches worldwide effort to Dance Away Diabetes

Pierce Jackson

Pierce says, "I was scared. I didn't know if I could still enjoy the things that I loved."

At Evans Middle School, Mr. Wolfe calls on Pierce, who has his hand up often to show he knows the answer. To see Pierce in class, you would never know anything is wrong. It's before or after class when kids take off down the hall, that Pierce takes a different path into the nurse's office several times a day.

At 12 years old, Pierce has learned to manage type one Diabetes.

He explains, "I just prick my finger and put in the device and it tells me what blood sugar is at."

When the number 141 came up on the device, the school nurse, Melissa Reeves, was pleased.

She said, "This is a good place for you to be. You're in your target range."

In a different office at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Dr. Daina Dreimane examines the "damage" from all that blood testing Pierce does every day.

"Let me look at your fingertips," she says.

Dr. Dreimane is a specialist who treats kids with diabetes. She also offers reassurance to moms like Susan Jackson that this is not the same diabetes our parents or grandparents faced generations ago. Pierce gives an update on his daily routine in managing the disease while Susan listens to make sure he is on the right track.

Dr. Dreimane says, "Until 1921, this type of diabetes was 100 percent lethal disease. Today, it's a chronic lifelong condition."

And the key to surviving with this lifelong "condition" is finding it early.

In this case, it was Lauren, Pierce's step mom, who put all the clues together.

She says, "He was really losing some weight. And he would get really hot, really fast. And he was drinking all the time and going to the bathroom a lot."

We know from the American Diabetes Association that those are all classic signs of diabetes.

However, there are other clues: fatigue, wounds that are slow to heal, changes in vision, and itchy skin that is relentless.

So what happens when Pierce's blood sugar number is too high or too low? That means he needs an injection to get his insulin back to a better level. He says he gives himself an injection four or five times a day, sometimes even more often.

That was the motivation for Lauren to help her step son find a way to raise a lot of money,  perhaps the billions it might take to find a cure.  Standing in his bedroom, pointing to a bunk bed, she says, "He was sitting right there and he said what he wanted to say. We started our song and the rest is history."

In that little speech on his bed, Pierce made a challenge in what has become a global movement to Dance away Diabetes and make a donation before you send the dance challenge on to someone else.

Christy Hartin at NewsChannel 11 jumped on board. So did Benji Sneed at First Bank and Trust. And since Bart Reagor had already teamed up with Pierce in a commercial to promote the Diabetes Walk, Bart was quick to joined the challenge with a little kung fu in his effort to dance away diabetes.

KCBD General Manager Dan Jackson also accepted the challenge, like you've never seen him before. After all, this was personal, a father dancing for his son, with a giant disco ball and every dance move from 'the hustle' to 'the sprinkler'.

Dan says, "It wasn't easy to do but I had to laugh at myself and know it was for a good cause, for my son and for diabetics."

As the effort has grown, many others have joined the dance, including Texas Tech Football Coach Kliff Kingsbury and the team, Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope, the Plainview Police Department, even a cheer team in Austria.

It has become a global movement to dance and donate to fight diabetes.

Dr. Dreimane says, "My heart aches. I really wish we could find a cure."

Pierce believes that could happen. He says "That's the whole point of this dance away diabetes challenge anyway."

Lauren agrees. She says, "It could change the world."

And since exercise is a good way to fight diabetes anyway, Pierce's plan is a clever way to get the whole world to dance. The song he chooses for his challenge includes the words, "Now all my dreams are coming true. I've been waiting for this moment!"

What better motivation for Abner and me to accept the challenge, too.

That means we donate, dance and pass the challenge to someone else.

Check out this video and you'll see our attempt on the dance floor and where we sent our challenge.

If YOU would like to join the effort and dance away diabetes, you can learn more at danceawaydiabetes.com.

Also, don't forget the Step Out to Stop Diabetes Walk on Saturday, September 23rd.

Meet at the Mackenzie Park baseball fields at 8 a.m. for check-in. Opening ceremonies will begin at 8:50 a.m. and the walk will start at 9 a.m.

Details of how to get to Mackenzie and more are in the attached newsletter.

Abner and I want to thank Sydney and Theo at the Lubbock Ballet for the fun dance lessons!

Story produced by the Office of Communications and Marketing, (806) 743-2143.