When two generations of identical twins, (Mollie and Jackie, and Mollie and Jackie), formed the band MJ2 and signed a recording contract in Nashville, they set out to do more than create rockin’ country music. The family band used their talent to help find a cure for diabetes. Jackie Singer, mom of the younger Mollie and Jackie talks to SheKnows about why raising money for diabetes research is close to her heart.
by Jackie Singer
as told to Julie Weingarden Dubin
On a beautiful early September morning 19 years ago, my husband answered a call that changed our young family forever. “Mollie’s doctor called — get her to the hospital immediately — she has diabetes,” he said. “Her blood sugar is almost 800 and her ketones are off the chart.” I didn’t know what ketones were but my heart was pounding. We headed to the hospital and my mind was racing: What was going to happen to Mollie — she’s only 4 — and why didn’t anyone discover this sooner? What are they going to do to her? How is this going to affect her? I was screaming inside but I turned to Mollie and her twin sister, Jackie, and said that Mollie was going to be OK.
The physical challenges are rough for any kid diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes but the emotional toll on Mollie was worse. Mollie experienced discrimination due to fear and ignorance of the public, parents, her peers and a few teachers. It was heart-wrenching. A friend once “uninvited” Mollie to a birthday party because the mother said that diabetics were a hassle. Such incidents motivated my twin sister Mollie and I to join with my twin daughters, then 10, to start Diabetic Angels, a global community designed to help raise diabetes awareness while working to find a cure through fundraising for research, advocacy and education.
I lived in fear that my daughter Mollie might not wake up in the morning because her blood sugar dropped too low during the night. I’d set my clock to wake her and check her blood sugar every few hours. We did the same drill every day for more than 10 years. Now Mollie and Jackie set their alarm for middle-of-the-night blood sugar tests. Mollie is able to manage her diabetes. She exercises, eats healthy and stays informed about the current information on diabetes. Mollie also wears her Medtronic Insulin Pump — her lifeline.
By the time Mollie and Jackie were teenagers the four of us were performing together at special events. We officially became MJ2 (named for two Mollies and two Jackies) five years ago and it’s the best adventure of my life. We’re a country band with a touch of pop mixed in. We pride ourselves on our blend and harmonies. We went to Nashville with the girls to see if we could get our big break and on our second day there we were signed to our very first recording contract. I’m living every mother’s dream. My relationship with my daughters is closer now than ever. I love our sound as a band — our harmonies are so close they’re downright eerie. But most importantly, we have fun and it is normal for our rehearsals to run longer because we spend so much time in tears, laughing hysterically. Our love for music and our unwavering desire to help cure diabetes keeps us going and strengthens our relationship.
Working toward a cure
Diabetes is an epidemic in our children and more than half of all Americans are at risk of developing it by 2020. For 19 years, the four of us have helped raise more than a half a million dollars through our walk teams, gala donations, corporate and personal sponsorships, concerts, public service announcements and letter-writing campaigns. We even recorded a song, “You Can’t Say Love Enough,” on the Sweetsong Nashville record label, in Nashville, Tennessee, with an array of country artists who donated their time including Dolly Parton and Wayne Newton. All of the net proceeds from the download of the song on iTunes were directed to fund diabetes research and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
I’m constantly in awe of Mollie and Jackie. Their gentle spirits are contagious and they touch the lives of everyone they meet. I’m the mom but I feel like they’re the teachers. I learn so much from my girls. They look for the good in others regardless of who they are, how they look or where they’re from. My daughters have taught me the importance of being compassionate when no one is looking and how small acts of everyday kindness make a big difference.
Focus on what is good in your life. I find that being grateful helps me keep my life in perspective and brings me a sense of peace. I also try to keep my priorities in order, remembering that I can’t do everything and what doesn’t get done today will be there tomorrow.