Diabetes Forecast

Bret Michaels Wins "Celebrity Apprentice," Raising $390,000 for ADA

By Katie Bunker ,

Bret Michaels (left) and fellow finalist Holly Robinson Peete.

It was a spectacular end to a season that was already far more dramatic than anyone could have expected. On Sunday, May 23, rock star Bret Michaels was "hired" on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice during the reality show's live finale, winning $250,000 for his charity of choice—the American Diabetes Association—and a total of $390,000 for the run of the show. And this all after Michaels, the front man of the glam metal band Poison, was hospitalized three times in less than two months: first for an appendectomy, then for a brain hemorrhage, and finally for a mini stroke just days before the finale (during which time he was also found to have a small hole in his heart).

Michaels, 47, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 6 years old. He has long spoken out about his experience managing the disease while living the rock star lifestyle. So when the opportunity to participate on the Donald Trump-hosted Apprentice came up, he didn't hesitate to name ADA as his cause. "We are all so proud of Bret's win on Celebrity Apprentice," says ADA Chief Executive Officer Larry Hausner. "His dedication to the cause—and, in particular, his devotion to children with diabetes—will truly help the American Diabetes Association change the future of this disease and stop diabetes."

Celebrity Apprentice pits several personalities against one another in various business-related tasks—for example, running a restaurant for a day or creating an ad campaign. Michaels was not a shoo-in by any means, Trump and others pointed out during the finale. (At one point during the season, Michaels was even asked if he was "too nice" to win.) But his drive and unique style would win over the judges. The final round called on Michaels and his rival candidate, actress Holly Robinson Peete, to develop new teas and an accompanying marketing plan for the bottled drink—brand Snapple. Michaels named his drink Diet Trop-A-Rocka (he chose an artificially sweetened drink because he avoids sugared sodas as part of his diabetes management). It's a blend of green and black teas with pear, cinnamon, and mango flavors. ADA gets its logo on the label; in addition, the association will receive half of the funds raised through NBC's online auction of this season's Apprentice memorabilia, as well as money from the sales of bandannas created by Michaels in collaboration with the association. Visit diabetes.org/bretmichaels for more information.

Michaels spoke often during the show of his desire to help children with diabetes. He's a big supporter of ADA Diabetes Camps, and the Apprentice finale showed tape of him bringing kids with diabetes to his concert in Ardmore, Okla., where they got to come up onstage for a sound check. "[I wanted to] show them that they could come out of this great, that they can live a great, strong, happy life," he explained.

In May, Michaels began receiving outpatient treatment for the hole in his heart, which his doctor called "operable and treatable." Meanwhile, his new solo album, Custom Built, is due out this summer. The spring may have been rocky, but Michaels is now on a roll.



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