His first reaction to the diagnosis was "Why me?" But now he's helping others

By Paul Chi
Updated August 07, 2008 03:05 PM

The Jonas Brothers are lending their star power to a cause close to their hearts.

The band has partnered with Bayer Diabetes Care to offer encouragement to young people with diabetes and spread awareness about the disease, with which Nick was diagnosed at age 13.

“I thought, ‘Why me?’ I didn’t know how to handle it,” Nick Jonas, 15, told PEOPLE at a press conference in New York Wednesday. The pop star was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in November 2005, after experiencing sudden weight loss and behavioral changes.

“I didn’t know anyone with diabetes,” said Nick. “There was no familiar face in music or sports that I could connect with … [but] I started to see it as an opportunity to be an inspiration to a generation that doesn’t openly talk about having diabetes and not feeling embarrassed by the disease.”

That means checking his blood sugar levels whenever necessary – even while performing. “At a concert a couple of days ago Nick had a low onstage,” said his big brother Kevin, 20. “He said, ‘I need a second to stall,’ so I kept talking [to the audience] until he gave us the sign that he was O.K.”

The message Nick hopes to share with others? “To be able to live my dream by being in a band shows that anything is possible,” he said. “Even if you have diabetes.”