(December 6, 2010) A few times a week, Coral Gables resident Sammy Schechter, 11, makes the famous request in a trembling voice, “Please sir, I want some more,” in the Actors’ Playhouse rendition of the Tony-award winning musical, Oliver! But on the evening of his birthday, November 26, Sammy boldly asked more than 350 people in the audience at the Miracle Theatre for donations to the Diabetes Research Institute, a world leader in cure-focused research located at the University of Miami.
Sammy, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 7 years old, wants nothing more than a cure. Bounding in generosity and holiday spirit, the audience contributed more than $900 in honor of Sammy’s request. The amount is higher than other past collections held at the Actors’ Playhouse, which is supportive of a number of local charities.
“Actually, I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure if people were going to donate or how much would be raised. It was a little nerve-racking,” said the articulate fifth grader, who has been performing in front of audiences for two years.
Sammy is part of the DRI Foundation’s Diabetes Diplomats program – people of all ages from all over the world who serve as advocates, educators and fundraisers in their schools and neighborhoods. This volunteer group believes that the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) is the best hope for a cure, and they aren’t just waiting for it. They’re aiming for a cure.
Sammy’s parents, Rosa and Beno Schechter, are also very involved with the organization, serving as event sponsors, committee members and on the Florida board of directors.
“We are so very proud of the way Sammy managed his time with school and rehearsals, which were from 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. to until late at night,” stated Mr. Schechter. “We are all very grateful that Actors’ Playhouse gave Sammy the opportunity to bring diabetes and DRI awareness to the audience.”
Managing diabetes while on stage can be a challenge. At all times, Sammy is connected to two devices: an insulin pump that administers insulin to his body by way of tubing and a needle just under the skin; and a continuous glucose monitor, which tracks trends in blood glucose levels and is also inserted under the skin. Additionally, it is necessary for Sammy to prick his finger multiple times during the show to test his blood.
“My blood sugar usually goes up because I get very excited. I usually take half the amount of insulin than I would normally, so I won’t come crashing down. That would not be good,” said Sammy, whose parents are always in the audience. The stage manager keeps the Schechters updated of Sammy’s blood glucose levels via text messaging.
For Sammy and millions of others, it’s a way of life. He will never be able to enjoy the carefree spontaneity that most children experience. He must always be diligent, every minute of every day. And there is always the possibility for complications. Sammy, however, stays hopeful and focused, much like the character he now plays on stage.
“Anything that can help find a cure will make a lot of people happier, and even if it’s as little as a lemonade stand that raises $10, it can really make a difference,” he said, spoken in the real-life role of a Diabetes Diplomat.
Those interested in seeing Sammy perform in Oliver! at Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre should call 305.444.9293. He performs on alternate nights during the show’s run through December 26. Tickets can be ordered by calling 305.444.9293 or online at ActorsPlayhouse.org.