A legend of the stage and screen was in Seattle on Tuesday to bring attention to one of the main causes of kidney disease. Actor Ben Vereen was the keynote at the Northwest Kidney Center’s “Breakfast of Hope.”

He spoke to a packed house of nearly 800 people at the Westin Hotel. He told the crowd of his type 2 diabetes diagnosis, which came as a total shock.

Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney damage and can cause kidney failure and even death.

Vereen told the crowd that controlling diabetes means eating well and exercising, and not allowing the disease to control you.

“It's a life sentence. It's a death sentence if you aren't doing the right things. Some people get frightened, read all the horror stories. But the good news: If you do the right things, if you work in concert with your doctor, take your medication, change your eating habits. You can have a great life,” he said.

Vereen said the key is checking in with your doctor. If you’re pre-diabetic, find out what you need.

He also talked about overcoming adversity and getting back up.

Vereen was shattered by the death of his 16-year-old child in 1987 and was hit by a truck and nearly killed in 1992. This latest blow to health was another knock-down, but not a knock-out.

“Happiness is within us, sometimes it’s hard to get there,” he said.