JDRF Children’s Congress
We recently attended the three-day JDRF Children's Congress in Washington DC (June 22-24, 2009). The goal of the 150 young delegates (ages 4-17 years, who all have type 1 diabetes) was to raise awareness about the disease and to remind legislators to consider the importance of diabetes in children. The Children's Congress has been key in diabetes advocacy since it was founded 10 years ago.
One major highlight of the 2009 Children's Congress arose when President Obama met with the 150 delegates on June 23rd on the White House portico. This was the first time a sitting President met with the delegates, and we thought it highlighted the new administration's focus on healthcare. Rick Rosbach, one of the parents who attended with his son Ben (7), said it was an amazing experience and that he saw the “human face” of the President come out. President Obama was very personable with the children, he said, “even picking up one four year-old who was quite nervous” and putting him on his lap.
The Congress ended on June 24th with a Senate Hearing on "Type 1 Diabetes Research -- Real Progress and Real Hope for a Cure” at which many prominent figures spoke--Mary Tyler Moore (the JDRF International Chairman), Griffin P. Rodgers, MD (Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases), “Sugar” Ray Leonard (an Olympic gold medal boxer), and even singer-songwriter Nick Jonas. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) gave a personal promise to the children in her closing remarks, saying, “I will remember you and I will do everything I can to advance the research that will lead to a cure.” Delegates met with their representatives at the end of the Congress to thank them for their support of diabetes research, asking them to vote for the Special Diabetes Program coming up for renewal ($150 million in funding). Parents attending the Congress said that their main take-away from the event was that “we are not alone.”