ALAMEDA -- Jake Sampson has a generous smile and a deep, resonant voice. He looks like a strong, fit guy, and he's a musically obsessed composer, singer and bassist of rhythm and blues who recently released his latest album, "Haunted."
Life is good for the retired property maintenance man -- except for his battles with diabetes, which he has had for about half his life. His father and his brother died from it. His father survived military service in the Battle of Normandy but back home years later lost both his legs to the disease.
Longtime Alameda park worker Mike Richina, a guitarist and singer in the local band, Calle Reyes (Street Kings), is a buddy of Sampson's. Besides their friendship and love of music, they have something else in common. Richina's wife has diabetes. He said it affects their lives "piece by piece."
Sampson said the quality of his life depends on his insulin levels. If they're good, he's good. When they're not, it can affect his blood pressure, kidneys, eyesight and more. One morning he awoke to see four of everything he looked at. It took days, but his vision eventually returned to normal.
"It's a drain on your entire system," he said.
On Sept. 21, Sampson will perform an afternoon fundraising show to raise money for the American Diabetes Association at the High Street Station Cafe. The same evening Calle Reyes will perform with Sampson for the benefit.
According to the association's website, more than 11 percent of people in the United States over the age of 20 have diabetes. There is more than one category of diabetes, and about one in 400 children and adolescents suffer from the disease.
Susan Timney, who co-owns the cafe with Lynda Kretlow, has also been painfully connected to diabetes. Her late mother was a dual amputee from the illness and other members of her family also had diabetes.
The fundraiser, Kretlow said, is an opportunity for people to enjoy food, drink and music while helping build funds for progress in treating and halting diabetes. The first show will be in the parking lot of the cafe, located at High Street and Encinal Avenue, from 3 to 6 p.m. featuring Sampson's music.
Then, at 7 p.m., the music will move inside where Sampson and Richina, with other Calle Reyes band members, bassist Conrad Acosta, drummer Lou Torres, percussionist Mark Elola and saxophonist J.J. Johnson will perform. Admission is $20 and includes food and a free beer. Families are welcome.