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Man is one of only 90 diabetics who have lived more than 70 years

CLEVELAND – There are more than a million people who have Type 1 diabetes and they can expect to live at least ten years less than Americans without the disease.

In fact, there are only 90 diabetics who have lived more than 70 years. One 85-year-old man has crushed that goal and he is telling others how they can do it too.

Don Ray can’t remember a life without diabetes. As a child, Don could not go to gym class. He couldn’t play sports. He couldn’t even play hide and seek.

“Because if you were to hide, and they can’t find you and you have an insulin reaction or a hypoglycemia, you might really be in trouble because they will never find you,” Ray said.

He was told he wouldn’t live past his 30s, but eventually, he got tired of hearing, “You can’t.”

“I would go to gym class when I started school in kindergarten and first grade, and I’d sit in the chair in gym class and I’d watch these kids and I knew I could do this cause I just knew I could do this,” Ray said.

Ray and his dad started playing catch and that turned into 20 years of playing football and 30 years of baseball.

“He followed the rules,” said Dr. Betul Hatipoglu, of the Cleveland Clinic.

What rules? First, make sure your blood sugar is in check: between 80 and 130 milligrams. If it’s too low, eat some carbs, but don’t forget to check while working out.

“If they are going to exercise for an hour, they have to check it in 30 minutes again to make sure they are still in the safe zone,” Hatipoglu said.

Don’t take too much insulin before your meal or before your workout.

“So, if you are going to exercise after lunch, for lunch you take less insulin so it is safer for you,” Hatipoglu said.

If you’re working out after dinner, be careful as well. You don’t want any overnight complications.

“If you take care of the disease, the disease will take care of you and you can if you take care of yourself,” Hatipoglu said.

“I don’t believe that there is nothing a diabetic, a diabetic person can not do,” Ray said.

There are nearly 140,000 people diagnosed with diabetes each year in the U.S. alone. In 30 years, an expected 5 million Americans will be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

Ray retired at age 70, but he still works as a Santa Claus during the holidays.