Meet Your 2019 LA Area Children’s Congress Delegates

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JDRF 2019 Children’s Congress will take place from July 8-10, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

Every two years, more than 160 children living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) gather in Washington, D.C., to meet face-to-face with some of the top decision-makers in the U.S. government. The children, ages 4 to 17, represent all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The delegates in JDRF’s Children’s Congress enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help Members of Congress understand what life with T1D is like and why research to fund life-changing therapies until a cure can be found is so critical. They speak up on behalf of the millions of people living with T1D and the families and friends who love them. Congratulations to our JDRF 2019 Children’s Congress Delegates from the JDRF Los Angeles Chapter:

Natalie Deo
Age: 17
Age at T1D diagnosis: 8

When Natalie was diagnosed with T1D at just eight years old, she received a visit in the hospital from a friend from school who also had T1D (and a shiny pink insulin pump!). This visit inspired Natalie, and she left the hospital feeling motivated and determined to conquer life with T1D. She has certainly achieved that already, as she’s a fourth-year student at California State University Los Angeles and is majoring in electrical engineering while minoring in mathematics as part of their Early Entrance Program. In her spare time, Natalie loves to travel, spend time with her family and friends, volunteer and help to raise funds for T1D research through participating in events like the JDRF One Walk. Natalie is excited to come to D.C. and speak with her Members of Congress about T1D and the importance of research, noting that because of the progress that has been made so far, “where I once despaired, I now have found hope.”

Jessica Garff
Age: 17
Age at T1D diagnosis: 10

When Jessica was first diagnosed with T1D at age 10, she had a rough time adjusting to what life was like living with T1D, saying that she was “a girl controlled by a disease.” After a scary experience in February 2017, Jessica gained a new outlook and decided that she was the one in control. She used this drive to not only continue to live her life and accomplish her goals, but mentor other young people with T1D who were struggling with their diagnosis as well, which eventually led to her being featured on CBS’s People Who Make a Difference. Jessica looks forward to bringing her positive attitude to D.C., saying, “I am so thankful that I am no longer a girl controlled by a disease, but rather I have found strength in my disease.”

Anthony Greene
Age: 17
Age at T1D diagnosis: 11

Anthony has earned the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve, Eagle Scout. Scouts are resilient, resourceful and spend years working to benefit their communities. For his Eagle Scout project, Anthony created “The Quiet Zone” to benefit both people with T1D and anyone on the Autism Spectrum, so that they have a dedicated space to take care of their health needs and take a break from the overly stimulating sights and sounds of the Fair. Anthony is continuing his history of service by advocating for T1D research funding at Children’s Congress. Anthony explains, “I would like to see Congress take an active role in helping to raise awareness and regulate the cost of life-sustaining insulin.” Anthony doesn’t let his T1D slow him down. He loves spending his time hiking, camping, deep sea fishing, doing photography and learning about history.

Teddy Silverman
Age: 17
Age at T1D diagnosis: 11

Teddy is an expert at managing his full schedule of mock trial, lacrosse and being on the dean’s honor roll, all while successfully managing his T1D. Teddy has made it a personal goal to educate his peers at school about T1D, and as a JDRF Youth Ambassador, has led several fundraisers at his school to benefit JDRF as well. Teddy recognizes the challenges that T1D can bring, but feels T1D doesn’t have to stop or slow anyone down. Teddy looks forward to bringing his positive outlook to Children’s Congress to help make a difference for himself and his fellow people with T1D.

Children making history

The JDRF Children’s Congress T1D advocacy program was inspired by a boy from Massachusetts named Tommy Solo. One day, at age nine, he asked his mother, “Why can’t kids go to Washington and tell their Representatives about what it is like to have type 1 diabetes and let them know that we want scientists to find a cure?” His mom and other JDRF volunteers agreed and, in 1999, the first-ever JDRF Children’s Congress took place in Washington, D.C.

Since then, nine successful Children’s Congresses have been held, one every other year, and more than 1,000 kids with T1D have served as delegates. JDRF Children’s Congress has been essential to securing continued government funding of T1D research and to raise awareness of the daily burden of Americans living with this serious autoimmune disease.

Delegates form lifelong friendships, meet T1D role models, develop leadership skills, and leave Children’s Congress empowered to use their voices for the change that will improve their lives and the lives of all people affected by T1D.

You can help! Send a message to your Senators here encouraging them to support their constituents with T1D by signing the SDP letter and bring us closer to a cure.