Written by Sofi Jaimes
On my first day at the 2019 JDRF Children’s Congress I had the chance to listen to type 1 diabetes (T1D) speakers from various career fields. They explained to us that diabetes does affect their work, but also that they haven’t let it stop them from fulfilling their dreams. I met a scientist from the NIH, an aerospace engineer from NASA, and even an FBI agent! At the welcome dinner that evening, I and the other delegates went up on stage and introduced ourselves. There were 165 kids from all 50 states as well as 5 countries. I had never seen so many T1Ds in one place before. The next day was dedicated to interaction between the delegates and T1D role models (celebrities). The role models formed a panel and answered our questions about their experience with diabetes. The questions included, “What is your favorite low blood sugar snack?”, “What happens if you go low while filming?” (for the actors), and “What is the best way to ensure that your medical devices stay properly attached?” (for the athletes).
Later on, we went to the delegate social, where I took pictures with the role models and made friends with other T1Ds around my age. We played card games and walked around D.C. while getting to know each other. On the last day, we left bright and early for Capitol Hill. We attended a senate hearing and then split up to go to meetings with our senators and congressional representatives. I met with Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Marsha Blackburn, and Representative Scott DesJarlais. We discussed what life is like with T1D, insulin affordability, and the importance of renewing the Special Diabetes Program for 5 years. The Special Diabetes Program, or SDP, is a $150 million grant that funds a very large portion of diabetes research. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to attend this year’s Children’s Congress. It was inspiring to meet so many others like me who are equally as passionate about advocating for T1Ds. I’ll never forget this experience or the lifelong friends that I made.