After three days of advocacy, education and networking, the 2015 JDRF Children’s Congress is over. All 163 of our delegates and their families are traveling back to their home states and countries, spanning Alaska to Australia, having left an indelible mark on hundreds of Members of Congress.
Yesterday morning, our delegates and their families got up with the sun for breakfast and a last minute debrief before the short trip to Capitol Hill. This was the day they’ve all been waiting for, and the energy was palpable. Clad in their powder blue JDRF Children’s Congress t-shirts, the delegates boarded buses bound for the steps of the Capitol Building, where they took a group photo with our celebrity advocates and tremendous JDRF supporter Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D -NH).
There were only a few minutes for pictures as each delegate’s day was full of meetings in both houses. Brian tagged along with some Montanans and got to meet Senator Jon Tester (D- MT) who not only voted for the two-year renewal of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) but also just signed on to co-sponsor (S. 804), the bill for the Medicare CGM Access Act of 2015! All told, our delegates crammed hundreds of meetings into just a few short hours, leaving no doubt to the strength and influence of JDRF and our grassroots advocacy.
The main event of the day was the “Diabetes Research: Improving Lives on the Path to a Cure” hearing with the United States Special Committee on Aging, chaired by Senator Susan Collins (R- ME). During the hearing, six witnesses testified to a standing room only chamber full of our delegates and their families. Isabelle Levesque, Amelia Cooper, Kate Hall, and Bob Amato testified on the rigors of daily life with T1D and how critical it is that Medicare includes coverage for continuous glucose monitors (CGM). Griffin Rodgers, M.D. and Habib Zaghouani, Ph.D. provided perspective from the research community, stressing the need for additional funding and explaining the different approaches researchers are taking towards better treating, preventing, and ultimately curing T1D. The senators applauded the delegates and the witnesses for taking matters into their own hands and coming to Washington, DC to testify. Most hearings don’t feature standing ovations and thunderous applause.
After almost two hours, the committee left with a tangible call to action on what the 1.25 million Americans with T1D need from Congress to help JDRF turn Type One into Type None, and it was incredibly apparent we have the support of each senator in the room.
It was an inspiring three days. To close our last blog post, we would like to send a huge thank you to all of our delegates. For months they’ve been preparing for these past three days. Each and every one of them used their voice and their story to advocate on the importance of funding research that will help us achieve our vision of a world without T1D. We’re looking forward to hearing them continue to advocate and speak for everyone affected by T1D for years to come.
We can’t wait for the next JDRF Children’s Congress. Is it 2017 yet?