Ian McGough, 15, Holmdel, Jack Morais, 11, Bernardsville and Isa Rosa, 8, West Caldwell have returned from a once-in-a-lifetime experience in the nation’s capital, where they joined nearly 160 children, ages 4 to 17, as delegates to JDRF 2017 Children’s Congress, held July 24-26.
JDRF Children’s Congress is the largest grassroots event supporting type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Ian, Jack and Isa were chosen by their local JDRF chapter to represent New Jersey at this biennial event, alongside delegates representing all 50 states, and JDRF’s six international affiliate countries.
In addition to meeting kids from across the country, the delegates spoke with celebrity role models living with T1D such as professional baseball player, Corey Vaughn, and actress Brec Bassinger. They lobbied Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker as well as Congressmen Rodney Frelinghuysen (district 11), Leonard Lance (district 7), Christopher Smith (district 4) and Frank LoBiondo (district 2) to urge continued federal government support for T1D research that aims to reduce the burden of the disease and contribute to a cure.
The event culminated with a Congressional Committee hearing on July 26, which included testimony from select delegates as well as House of Cards actor Paul Sparks.
“In my own lifetime, personally, I have seen and I have benefitted from [T1D research] advances discovered in our labs and clinical trials,” said Sparks, who was diagnosed with T1D at age 28.
These personal testimonies drew attention to the daily struggles of those living with T1D and the need for continued research funding and support, such as renewal of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP).
“Last week, Ian, Jack and Isa proved that little voices can lead to big change. These kids are so brave to speak up for millions of people affected by type 1 diabetes,” says Jess Backofen, executive director for JDRF New Jersey Metro & Rockland County Chapter – where an estimated 30,000 children and adults currently live with T1D.
“We’ve seen a 21% increase in the number of youth with T1D between 2001 and 2009. Our New Jersey delegates, along with other advocates from across the metro area, are making a tremendous impact to ensure a healthy future for everyone affected by type 1 diabetes.”
JDRF Children’s Congress was inspired by (then) eight-year-old Tommy Solo from Massachusetts, in 1999. He overheard adult JDRF volunteers talking about going to Washington, D.C. to talk to Congress and thought it was important that children go, too, and make their voices heard. JDRF Children’s Congress inspires national lawmakers to remember the children who live with T1D when making decisions about medical research funding and voting on other important federal government issues relating to diabetes. The young delegates’ personal stories, told in their own words, are often more powerful than almost any other type of education a legislator and staff can receive. Tommy’s idea quickly became a well-developed event, first held in 1999. Since then, JDRF Children’s Congress has occurred every other year. To learn more about JDRF Children’s Congress, click here.
JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Our mission is to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat T1D and its complications. To accomplish this, JDRF has invested more than $2 billion in research funding since our inception. We are an organization built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on a national stage to pool resources, passion, and energy. We collaborate with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our staff and volunteers throughout the United States and our six international affiliates are dedicated to advocacy, community engagement and our vision of a world without T1D. For more information click here or follow on Twitter: @JDRF