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NBA Look-Alike Hopes Image Can Encourage Message

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Ray looks so similar to Charles Barkley, he hoped the NBA star would join him in a PSA.  Barkley refused.
RALEIGH — November marks National Diabetes Awareness month in the United States. Many of us know someone who is diabetic, but we don't know a lot aboutthe disease. A Triangle man wants to change that. He's using hislikeness to a well-known NBA star to do it.

Charles Ray has diabetes, and he wants to raise awareness about thedisease. So, he thought it would be a perfect idea to make a publicservice announcement, or PSA, with his lookalike, Houston Rockets starCharles Barkley. It wasn't so easy though, to get a response fromBarkley's agent.

"He just told me straight out, you know, Charles, he doesn't want to dothis PSA with you," Ray explains. "Just leave us alone."

But after five years, Ray finally convinced former NBA and UNC standout,James Worthy, to do the PSA with him. And now, the American DiabetesAssociation will distribute Ray's PSA nationally.

"I think it's very positive that Charles is so committed to diabetes thathe would go to such lengths," says ADA Assistant Vice-President PhilTempleton. "I know he was turned down on many occasions."

One person who kept Ray's spirits up was Dr. John Buse at UNC, a leadingdiabetes researcher, who says Ray can do even more good by addressinggroups that have some of the highest rates of diabetes.

"I think he has great potential as a spokesperson to work in the minoritycommunity, and the community at large regarding diabetes treatmentissues," Dr. Buse says.

So someday Ray may meet face to face with small groups to further his mission.

"It's all about putting diabetes on a recognizable level that it shouldbe," Ray explains. "You have cancer and you have AIDS, and those are veryserious diseases, but you know, most people think of diabetes as not beingone."

There are six times as many diabetics now as there were in the 1950's. Doctors at the Centers for Disease Control say obesity and high-fat dietsare partially to blame. Worldwide, 125-million people are affected. TheCDC expects that number to double by the year 2025.

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