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ETMC tree lighting celebrates 25 years

East Texas Medical Center Tyler will celebrate its 25th annual Christmas tree lighting on Tuesday, Nov. 27, with Whitehouse elementary student Jason Ackerly lighting the tree.

Ackerly, who has attended the ETMC Diabetes Boot Camp for children with Type 1 diabetes, was diagnosed at the age of 5. Only 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease. In Type 1, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.

Ackerly is a fourth grade student at Brown Elementary in Whitehouse. He has received perfect attendance awards since kindergarten. He is a member of the National Elementary Honor Society, Cub Scouts, enjoys piano, tennis and karate and is a member of Dayspring Methodist Church. He wants to be a doctor who helps kids with diabetes. He has a twin sister named Michelle and has two older sisters, Kayla and Kristina. He's the son of Liisa and Paul Ackerly.

The Brook Hill Lower School Cadet Singers under the direction of Kelly Simmon will sing Christmas carols. Santa and two of his reindeer will greet children on the front lawn of the hospital from 5-7 p.m. If you would like to have a photo, please bring your own camera. The tree lighting ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m.

This is the third year for ETMC to use its living Christmas tree, which was planted as part of the Tyler tree initiative, created by Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass to promote tree conservation. Each year, an ETMC related patient with a special story serves as the hospital's tree lighting ambassador.