Drummers for Diabetes


ROCHELLE – A father and son are using their passion for music to raise awareness and help others who are struggling with diabetes.

David Reish and his son, Druw, have always had a passion for music, specifically the drums. From the time Druw was 18 months old, he was going to the drum shop that his father worked at in Colorado.

Even before Druw was 1 year old, his love for music was already beginning to show. Whether it was two wooden spoons and a pot, or literally anything solid he could get his hands on, he was banging them together to make noise.  

“I started drumming when I was not even one, my dad could always find me with two sticks playing on something,” said Druw. “It could be the most random thing, but I was always beating two solid objects on something.”

When Druw and his family moved to Rochelle in 2009, his father was the music pastor at the church next to their house. Druw would be at the church practicing on the drum set everyday after school.

Druw has had no formal training or classes and learned everything he knows from his dad and watching videos of drummers. His dad would play a beat and tell him to try it, then Druw would keep practicing it until he perfected it. Druw had never performed publicaly, until one day his dad needed a drummer for the church service.

“One church service, my dad called me over, wrote down the beats on a blank piece of paper and asked me if I could count it out,” said Druw. “He instructed me where to place my hands and feet and said, the drum kit is right out there, now go play.”

Ever since then, he began playing drums for the church services every Saturday and his parents purchased an electric drum set that was his correct size. The church band was made up of his entire family, him, his dad and both of his sisters playing the trumpet and the saxophone.

From then on, he kept adding new pieces to his electronic kit and both his drum set and passion for continued to grow. He kept practicing and improving his abilities until he was 13 years old and his diabetes started, making everything uncertain.

Being diagnosed at 13 was very shocking for him and his family, both the seriousness of the diagnosis and the cost to keep it under control. At this point, it was uncertain if Druw would be able to continue drumming or not.

“When he got diagnosed at 13, it changed everything,” said David. “In drumming you exert a lot of energy.”

After a marching band performance his freshman year in high school, Druw had to be taken away in an ambulance. It was after this incident that Druw decided he wanted to do something to give back to others going through similar situations.  

He and his father decided to start a charity that would help musicians struggling with diabetes. They decided on the name “Drummers for Diabetes” and began making T-shirts, wristbands, a Facebook page and a GoFundMe.

It was during this time, exactly one year ago to the weekend, that Druw found out he was in diabetic ketoacidosis and got very ill. He was in a coma-state for just over a day at Rochelle Community Hospital. He was then transferred to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Rockford where he stayed in the critical ICU for four days.

After four days, he was released and realized that he needed to do something for other diabetics. He and his father began creating pages for their charity through different social media platforms and were shocked by the amount of responses from other families having to make difficult choices.

“The amount of responses from parents who would love for their kid to be able to be in marching band, but they can’t afford it because they have a huge deductible or no insurance at all,” said David, “So it is, do you play music or do you take care of your son or daughters' life.”

Drew decided that he really wanted to do something for those kids, so they began selling T-shirts and wristbands, setting up social media pages and collecting funds. They then started to gain support from people all over the world.

“We have seen photos of our shirts in Scotland and we just got one from South America,” said Druw.

As the charity began to gain more publicity, organizations such as the American Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Association, and World Diabetes Day began to reach out. Through this, Druw began to realize that there are many other kids going through the same thing he is.

So, he began putting videos online of him and his band performing as well as videos of Druw performing in different competitions. One of the competitions Druw has been competing in is the Percussion Palooza in Rock Falls.

This is a competition featuring drummers from all over the country who perform a drum solo in front of judges. There are different showcases for different percussion instruments and styles, ranging from solo, duets and trios.

For his solo performance, Druw used a 20-minute song that his dad wrote 15 years ago. He took different pieces of the song, added portions of other songs as well as a twist on his own style and used that as his performance.

He has participated in the competition for the last five years and won his showcase every year. This past year he won both his own showcase and the showcase featuring the top performers from each. For winning, he was awarded recognition as the winner, a trophy and a decorative drum head that had been hand designed.

“In the five years that he has been there, he has never scored lower than a 28 out of 30,” said David.

While Druw enjoys performing in the competition, his favorite part about being a drummer is showing other kids that they can do anything they set their mind to. He wants everyone to know that a condition does not determine what can or can’t be done.

“I like to tell people to never let diabetes stop your dream,” said Druw.

Drummers for Diabetes is also earning funds that will be used to offer a scholarship of at least $500. The scholarship is going to be offered during the 2021 school year for any Rochelle Township High School student who is pursuing a music degree, endocrinology (the study of the pancreas) or has diabetes and needs help funding college.

If anyone would like to donate to help support Drummers for Diabetes, they can do so through their Facebook page or GoFundMe. While David and Druw are very happy with what they have accomplished, they are far from finished.  

“I am proud of what we have done so far, but we are not finished yet,” said Druw.