Happy National Volunteer Week! From April 15 to April 21, we are honoring our volunteers and all that they make possible. Today, we celebrate those who donate their voice – our JDRF advocates!
At the annual JDRF Government Day, grassroots volunteer leaders from every JDRF chapter assemble in Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress and share their stories about life with type 1 diabetes (T1D). This past March, 33 JDRF Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter advocates held 10 legislative visits, meeting with every member or staff aide for our eight congressional districts and senators to thank them for their support of the renewal of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), which funds critical T1D research.
Two of these advocates were Fulton and Pat Brown. Their daughter, Cassie Monaco, was diagnosed with T1D as a teenager. Read below to find out what being a JDRF advocate means to the Brown family, as told by Fulton.
What is your T1D connection? Tell us about your loved one living with T1D.
Our 28-year-old daughter, Cassie, was diagnosed with T1D two weeks before heading off to college. Her body was still inconsistently producing some insulin, so her levels were all over the place and very difficult to manage. Managing her diagnosis from three hours away was a monumental challenge for my wife and daughter, as we were trying to figure out what it all meant. As this was 10 years ago, managing diabetes meant finger pricks, strips, needles, and vials. I am so very proud of my wife and daughter who have so valiantly taken on this disease head-on. My daughter’s daily life still revolves around managing her diabetes, but she is my hero.
Who did you meet with on Government Day? Tell us your experience.
We met with representatives from Senators Casey and Toomey’s offices, as well as staff from Representatives Cartwright and Dent’s offices. I found all staff members to be attentive and engaged. Some had more knowledge of the SDP and the disease itself than others, but all were genuinely interested in hearing about the daily experience of people suffering the effects of T1D.
We are the constituents, and the staff members are genuinely interested in serving our needs.
Why do you think it is important for others to become advocates for T1D research?
The key benefits I see in physically visiting our Congressional representatives advocating for T1D research funding are threefold:
- We are the constituents, and the staff members are genuinely interested in serving our needs.
- There are many people advocating for funding for many causes. Regular communication with our representatives keeps the T1D issue top of mind.
- Regular communication allows our representatives to get a genuine understanding of both the progress being made as well as the work yet to be done towards a cure.
JDRF 2018 Government Day is over, but our work continues. JDRF’s track record of grassroots activism is strong—and proof that when we speak with One Voice, the impact is enormous. Register to be an advocate to help secure legislative support for research, influence sound policy making, and improve the quality of life for all those affected by T1D.