Riley Haase, age 10, and Conner Wattles, age 7, are two of 150 children throughout the U.S. selected to represent their state on Capitol Hill this summer to remind Congress and the Administration of the critical need to find a cure for a disease they live with every day— type 1 (juvenile) diabetes.
These children—ages 4 to 17, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia and all diagnosed with type 1 diabetes—will converge on Washington, D.C., to tell their stories and urge lawmakers to help find a cure during the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s (JDRF) Children’s Congress 2009, from June 22 to 24, 2009. Riley and Conner, who live in Las Vegas, have been named delegates representing Nevada in the Children’s Congress. JDRF is the world’s largest charitable funder of type 1 diabetes research.
Led by JDRF International Chairman Mary Tyler Moore, JDRF’s Children’s Congress 2009 will include Congressional visits by the child delegates and a Senate hearing where Ms. Moore, select child delegates, researchers and business and community leaders will testify on the need for continued funding for research on diabetes and related complications. Ms. Moore and the child delegates, under the theme of “Promise to Remember Me,” will ask Members of Congress to support an increase in federal funding for diabetes research.
The Senate Co-Chairs of Children’s Congress 2009 are Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and the House Co-Chairs are Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE).
“The day that you or your child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is a day you will never forget,” said Ms. Moore, who has had type 1 diabetes for almost 40 years. “Members of Congress will now have the chance to give these children and their parents another day they will never forget. Instead, this time will be a day of hope instead of a day of fear.”
Riley who was selected to Children’s Congress through JDRF’s Nevada Chapter was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 7 years old. Conner was diagnosed when he was 2. The day-to-day fight to stay alive is a struggle for each of them and their families. Both boys have been advocates for JDRF from the time of their diagnosis, participating in numerous fundraising activities and raising awareness for type 1 diabetes.
Cynthia Ford, of Grosse Point Farms, Michigan is Chair of Children’s Congress 2009. Ms. Ford, her husband Edsel and son Albert, who has type 1 diabetes, serve as the designated Chair Family.
“Our entire family understands what a vital role this event plays in the furthering of our mission to cure diabetes. We are honored and excited to be leading such an extraordinary group of delegates who truly will have all the Washington leaders knowing they need to ‘Promise to Remember’ all of us who crave a true cure for diabetes and its complications.”
More than 1,500 children from all 50 states between the ages of 4 and 17 applied to take part in Children’s Congress 2009.
Children were selected by committee based on the need for focus in their Congressional district and in a way that divided the group evenly by ages. “Choosing the 150 delegates from the pool of more than 1,500 applicants this Children’s Congress was a difficult process and a challenge,” said Ford. “Truly, all 1,500 who applied would have served this role well.
Children’s Congress has been held every other year since 1999; it has become the largest media and grassroots event held in support of finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. A once-in-a-lifetime experience, the newly-selected child delegates will follow in the footsteps of their predecessors in raising national awareness about type 1 diabetes and participating in personal advocacy at the highest level of United States government.
In type 1 diabetes – the most serious and complicated form of the disease that accounts for some $132 billion in annual health care costs in the U.S. alone – a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone that enables people to get energy from food.
To survive, people with type 1 diabetes must test their blood sugar up to four or more times a day by pricking their fingers for blood, and then administer insulin through multiple, daily injections or the use of a continuous infusion insulin pump. While trying to balance insulin with the amount of food eaten (which raises blood sugar) and exercise (which lowers blood sugar), people with type 1 diabetes must constantly be prepared for potential life-threatening hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) reactions. The long-term complications of diabetes include blindness, heart attack, kidney failure, stroke, nerve damage and amputations. While usually diagnosed in childhood, it is also diagnosed in adults.
For more information, visit the JDRF web site at www.jdrf.org or call 800-533-CURE.