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Local Broadway actor helps fight against type 1 diabetes in children

WWLTV 

When a New Orleans actor made it to the stages on Broadway, he was at the top of his game. But a health scare almost took his dream away, until medical technology gave it back.

Now, he's paying it forward so others won't have their dreams cut short. 

Four years ago Broadway and opera actor, vocalist, dancer, Kyle Banks told us how he almost lost his life. 

“One day I looked in the mirror, I was like, ‘Oh my God. My face looks so gaunt,’” said Banks in January 2017.

In his late 30s, he was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. It’s a chronic illness that can take your sight, kidneys and life. An insulin pump gave him back the life he loves. 

“Now I’m able to go to work and it's like things are pretty much like before I had diabetes,” he said.

“Unfortunately, Type 1 Diabetes is probably the most common chronic, incurable disease of childhood,” said Dr. Stuart Chalew, a Professor of Pediatrics at LSU Health Sciences Center and the Section Chief of Pediatric Endocrinology at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans.

Every week. Dr. Chalew diagnoses two more young patients at Children's Hospital with Type 1 Diabetes. There is no cure. 

“This is a disease which is, you know, 24/7/365. Every meal is a challenge for our patients,” Dr. Chalew said.

Kyle hasn't forgotten his roots from New Orleans East, St. Augustine High and Dillard University, or patients who can't afford insulin pumps, or his talented theater friends since the pandemic forced New York stages to go dark. 

“It's been really tough. I've had a lot of my friends that have had to give up their apartments,” he said.

So they are putting on a free, virtual show, performing favorite songs from musicals to raise money for his foundation, Kyler Cares. Sponsorship dollars will provide insulin pumps to Children's Hospital patients in need.

“Kyle is one of our heroes. Kyle has faced the struggles of this disease. He walks the walk, and talks the talk," Dr. Chalew noted.

“We thrive from being on stage and in front of audiences. They've had a few months off from work so they really brought their A game,” Banks said about his theater friends who have performances in the fundraiser show.

And it’s all for a life-saving cause.