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[IPp] Diabetic boy helps teach with a comic touch

Posted on Sat, Jan. 01, 2005

 _krdDartInc++;document.write(''); AARON LINDBERG/Special to The Star Brothers
Malcolm (left) and Kamaal Washington have collaborated on a comic book to teach
children about Type 1 diabetes.
Diabetic boy helps teach with a comic touch

The Kansas City Star

 Stories like Kamaal's just go right to your heart. It is amazing that he is
willing to take the active role that he is doing to try and change his life.
 Moira McCarthy Stanford, chairmom of the 2005 Juvenile Diabetes Research
Foundation's Children's Congress

 Technically, it's 11-year-old Kamaal Washington whose body is struggling with
juvenile diabetes.

 But he and his sidekick younger brother, Malcolm, clearly see battling diabetes
as a job for two.

Me and him are close, Kamaal said, and Malcolm, sitting beside him, nodded.

 So close, the brothers collaborated on a comic book to teach other children
about Type 1 diabetes.

Me and my brother thought that was something we could do, Kamaal said.

 The Kansas City, Kan., brothers created the characters Omega Boy and Doctor
Diabetes. And they hope a second comic book will introduce Mighty Boy, a
character modeled after 9-year-old Malcolm.

 An alien life form gets hit by a meteoroid, then falls to Earth, Kamaal said,
outlining the planned story line.

His mind is on destruction, Malcolm added.

 The two brothers hope proceeds can help Malcolm travel with his brother to
Washington next summer for the 2005 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's
Children's Congress. Kamaal has been chosen as a member, the only one from

 The group, 150 children with diabetes, will help the foundation lobby Congress
in June for more research funding.

Nearly 1,000 children applied for the honor.

 Stories like Kamaal's just go right to your heart, said Moira McCarthy
Stanford, a Massachusetts mother who is chairmom of the 2005 congress, a
biennial effort for the foundation. It is amazing that he is willing to take
the active role that he is doing to try and change his life.

 On activism, the boys have good leadership. Their father is Alonzo Washington,
an area community leader often involved in issues affecting African-Americans.
Washington also is the creator of a line of comic books and action heroes.

 The Washington family was in St. Louis when Kamaal was diagnosed. A young St.
Louis girl was missing, and the family of five siblings had traveled across the
state to take part in rallies.

 But Kamaal had an unquenchable thirst. I drank five cans of pop in one day,
he said. Then he chugged a large sports drink.

 That was a bad thing to do, noted Malcolm, a reference to the fact that the
sugar-loaded drink only increased the problems Kamaal's body was having
regulating insulin.

 Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas stops producing
insulin. Insulin is a hormone that makes it possible for people to get energy
from food.

 Mother Dana Washington took Kamaal to the hospital. Doctors diagnosed the
diabetes, which will require Kamaal to monitor his insulin by pricking his skin
to draw a blood sample, and then taking shots, if necessary.

I was scared, but Mom said I'd be OK, Kamaal said.

 In the hospital, Kamaal was given pamphlets to read about diabetes. It was
really big words that I didn't understand and body parts I didn't know, he

The idea for the comic book was born.

 In the comic, a boy is angry after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. He
uses his anger to absorb a doctor. That morphs the boy into Doctor Diabetes,
who wants everyone else to feel his pain.

 Doctor Diabetes goes around trying to give the world diabetes, until Omega Boy
sets him straight.

 I'm like the only one in the family with problems, Kamaal said. I have
asthma, I wear glasses, and now I have diabetes.

 Malcolm listens, and offers: Yeah, but when you get mad, we go play games and
when we get far on it, you forget that you're mad.

The two share a room and a large plastic bin filled with comic books.

Kamaal's favorite character?

Batman, because he's dark and he doesn't play around.

And Malcolm's?

Robin, because he plays around.

Dynamic duos: Batman and Robin. Omega Boy and Mighty Boy. Kamaal and Malcolm.

Rachel - email @ redacted
Happy New Year! 


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