Meet Karen, Greater New Haven Advocacy Team Chair

Karen Graffeo is an Advocacy Team Chair from Connecticut. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) in December of 1979, when she was eleven years old.

Karen became involved with JDRF Advocacy through her diabetes blog, www.bittersweetdiabetes.com. When several of her T1D blogging friends attended JDRF’s Government Day event, she read their accounts of the day with interest, and then was inspired to sign up for advocacy herself after reading this post by fellow blogger Scott Johnson. She advises others who want to get involved in JDRF Advocacy, “Do not wait another moment. Get involved now. If you are nervous or have doubts about your ability to advocate, I get it because I did too…JDRF Advocacy provides all of the information and training you need to do your part.”

Karen & fellow CT Advocate, Jonathan, at a Government Day meeting
Karen & fellow CT Advocate, Jonathan, at a Government Day meeting

Government Day was Karen’s favorite JDRF Advocacy event because it is both inspiring and educational. “Meeting and learning from other advocates around the country teaches me so much,” she said. “Attending fantastic sessions and research updates helps me to advocate better. And walking through the Senate and House buildings to meet with my Members of Congress is truly a privilege.”

At Government Day 2014, Karen said the Representative’s health aides recognized her the instant she saw her, and even commented on Karen’s new haircut. This was one of Karen’s proudest Advocacy moments because she could see her hard work paying off. “This was a big deal to me, because it told me that she remembers our other meetings and that my time spent talking with her is having a real impact,” Karen said.

Karen and fellow JDRF Advocates meet with Congresswoman DeLauro (CT-3)
Karen and fellow JDRF Advocates meet with Congresswoman DeLauro (CT-3)

The most rewarding part of JDRF Advocacy for Karen is the feeling that she is making a difference. “I’m a terrible fundraiser,” Karen confessed. “I’m in awe of those who organize huge Walk teams and raise a lot of money. I’m just not good at that. But talking to our Representatives about life with diabetes so they support funding for diabetes research and treatment is how I can do my part to help.”

In six words, Karen describes her JDRF Advocacy experience as: Raising my voice, making a difference.