It has been over a week since I have returned from Washington D.C. and the JDRF’s Children’s Congress. What a privilege and honor it was to be one of the Missouri delegates. It was an experience that has had a profound impact on me.
Monday was an opportunity to meet all of the delegates from around the country as well as our international delegates. We rehearsed and then performed a song titled ‘Promise to Remember Me’. We were trying to put a face on this burden we all share: T1D. Our mission for the week was to ask congress to support and renew the Special Diabetes Program which provides funding for diabetes research. We truly hope our Senators and Representatives will remember us when it comes time to renew this funding.
Tuesday was an inspirational day when we got a chance to participate in a town hall with several celebrities that have T1D. We got to hear from Indy car driver Charlie Kimball, NBC journalist Leslie Adkins, actress Mary Mouser and Chef Sam Talbot. They shared their stories with us and answered our many questions. It was awesome to hear about Charlie Kimball’s ability to become the first Indy car driver with T1D. It was important for us all to hear that T1D might make things more complicated but we can achieve anything we set our minds to.
Wednesday was the big day. All 161 delegates went to Capitol Hill to meet with our Senators and Representatives. What a thrilling experience this was! I am so thankful that I live in a country where someone like me, a teenager, can meet with our nation’s leaders. Our first meeting was with Senator Blunt’s staff, followed by Senator McKaskill’s staff and then Representative Wagner’s staff. While I didn’t get to speak with the Senators and Representative Wagner for a long time or one on one, they were all gracious enough to meet me. It would have been great to have had more time with them to share my scrapbook and tell my story; however, I was able to relay the information to their staffs. I hope they will all sign the letter stating their support for the SDP. The highlight of the day was the senate hearing led by Senator Nelson and Senator Collins. Actress Jean Smart, NBA star Ray Allen, JDRF CEO Jeffery Brewer, NIDDK Director Griffin Rodgers, M.D. and Quinn Ferguson a delegate from Maine testified before the Special Committee on Aging about the importance of the SDP. Amazingly the Vice President, Joe Biden, stopped by for a photo and spoke with our group! I was so honored to shake his hand!
I take pride in knowing that by participating in the Children’s Congress I may have played a small part in helping find a cure and better treatments for T1D. It is easy to let T1D control you and prevent you from living a ‘normal’ life, but overcoming the disease and advocating for a cure is so much more empowering. I am looking forward to more advocacy work by participating in the Promise campaign in August. I can’t thank JDRF enough for organizing the Children’s Congress and for their ongoing quest to find a cure for T1D!
Hello! My name is Adam and I will be a junior in high school this fall. I am vice president of our student body, active in many groups at school, play tennis, swim, volunteer at my church and I am passionate about protecting our environment. I also have type one diabetes.