Hundreds of JDRF volunteers across the nation will be meeting with freshman lawmakers of the 115th Congress over the next few weeks as part of our biennial New Member Outreach Initiative (NMOI), which aims to recruit the new Senators and Representatives as JDRF’s legislative allies in the fight against type 1 diabetes (T1D).
The Initiative sends trained volunteers to the district offices of the new legislators to introduce them to JDRF and to educate them about T1D, the burden the disease places on their constituents and on the nation as a whole, and JDRF’s legislative agenda for the coming two years. A group of volunteers representing a cross-section of the T1D community—families with children with T1D, older people who have witnessed firsthand the many advances in T1D treatment made possible by research and young adults who are using the latest technologies to help manage their disease—meets with each of the new legislators to put human faces on T1D and to ask for their support for T1D research.
At the top of the agenda during this round of meetings: reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), a program initiated by JDRF through which the Federal Government annually provides $150 million in T1D research funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The program, which has provided irreplaceable research funding for artificial pancreas systems, complications and prevention, must be continuously reauthorized by Congress. The volunteers are also asking the new legislators to maintain strong Federal support for the NIH, which administers more than $30 billion of Federal funding annually in crucial medical research.
The NMOI meetings may be the freshman legislators’ first encounter with JDRF, but they are certainly not the last. The NMOI itself is an offshoot of JDRF’s Promise to Remember Me campaign, which annually sends volunteers to the district offices of their Senators and Representatives while they’re home for summer recess to make sure that they’re reminded about the needs of the T1D community and JDRF’s legislative and regulatory agenda. And every other year, hundreds of young volunteers ages 4 to 17 visit legislators in Washington, D.C., as part of JDRF Children’s Congress, educating them about life with T1D and the continued importance of supporting T1D research, receiving in return an education about the power of personal advocacy.
We thank the hundreds of volunteers nationwide who take the time to reach out to legislators to make sure they get the very best possible introduction to JDRF. You are crucial to our efforts to build and sustain critical support for Federally-funded T1D research.
Why It Matters
People without a T1D connection often don’t understand how burdensome it can be, on both a personal and societal level. They need to be made aware of the financial, medical, personal and emotional costs of the disease, as well as the remarkable progress that is being made in its treatment while we strive for a cure. The New Member Outreach Initiative helps new legislators understand just how important their support for T1D research is, and how their actions on Capitol Hill affect the day-to-day lives of the people who sent them there.