Michigan Children’s Congress Delegates Lobby Congress for T1D and Accept Elite Partners Award on Behalf of Ford

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Nasir  (front left) and Rollie (front right) accepted the Elite Partners award on behalf of Ford at the Partners Luncheon.  [Also photographed: Derek Rapp, JDRF President and CEO (back left), and Nicole Johnson, DrPH, Miss America 1999, Journalist, and Author (back right).] Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Caswell.

Nasir (front left) and Rollie (front right) accepted the Elite Partners award on behalf of Ford at the Partners Luncheon. [Also photographed: Derek Rapp, JDRF President and CEO (back left), and Nicole Johnson, DrPH, Miss America 1999, Journalist, and Author (back right).] Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Caswell.

In July, two young men from Southeast Michigan – Rollie, 14 and Nasir, 6 – were among the more than 150 children from around the country who were selected to participate in the JDRF 2015 Children’s Congress. Their purpose: remind members of Congress about the vital need to continue supporting research that aims to reduce the burden they all share of living with type one diabetes, until a cure becomes available.

“When I was diagnosed, I realized that T1D is a big deal,” Rollie said. “T1D is very unpredictable. Even when I do everything correctly, I might not get good results. I want better treatments, a cure and eventually prevention, so the third boy in my family doesn’t get T1D.”

About how he copes with T1D, Nasir said, “I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was three and a half. When I go to school I take my homework, my lunch, my diabetes supplies and emergency kit.”

In between meeting kids from around the country and celebrity role models – like Singer/Songwriter Este Haim, Professional Snowboarder Sean Busby, Pro Golfer Carling Nolan and Actor Austin Basis – they lobbied Susan M. Collins (R-ME), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and the office of Sen. Gary Peters, among others.

JDRF Children’s Congress, the largest grassroots event held in support of research for T1D, culminated with a congressional committee hearing “Diabetes Research: Improving Lives on the Path to a Cure” with the United States Special Committee on Aging on July 15, which included testimony from selected delegates. The focus of these personal testimonies was to draw attention to the daily struggles of those living with the disease, and the need for maintained support for funding research that brings us closer to a world without T1D.

In addition to the hearing, the delegates took part in:

  • The Delegate Social – The delegates had a chance to meet each other and interact with celebrity advocates. Many delegates came with a gift from their hometowns. Rollie brought a pin from the University of Michigan (which he teasingly tried to give to pro-football player Brandon Denson, who played for Michigan State University).
  • Town Hall – Delegates had the opportunity to learn and interact with eight T1D role models, who answered the delegates’ questions about how they are achieving their dreams despite having T1D
  • Awards Luncheon – Rollie and Nasir were selected to accept the Elite Partners award presented to Ford Motor Company for its longstanding funding and support on the company’s behalf.

Children – ages 4 to 17, and representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia – visited the nation’s capital as delegates joining them six international delegates traveling from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Israel, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

“Rollie and Nasir are two incredibly mature, thoughtful young men who understand the importance of advocating for the support of type one diabetes research to find a cure and educating others about the challenges of living with T1D,” said Kate Durak, executive director of JDRF Metro Detroit and Southeast Michigan Chapter. “Their participation in Children’s Congress provides the opportunity to bring forth a unified voice urging Congress to maintain its commitment to support necessary research initiatives.”

For more information about JDRF Children’s Congress, visit http://cc.jdrf.org.