JDRF and Hundreds of Children Testify Before Senate on Need for Type 1 Diabetes Research Funding

150 child delegates from around the country, JDRF President and CEO Jeffrey Brewer, NBA champion Ray Allen, and actress Jean Smart advocate renewal of the Special Diabetes Program

Washington, D.C., July 10, 2013 – JDRF’s president and CEO, Jeffrey Brewer, was joined today by 2013 NBA champion Ray Allen of the Miami Heat, actress Jean Smart, and 150 children with type 1 diabetes (T1D) in a call for congressional support of T1D funding through legislation such as the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), which accounts for roughly one third of the federal investment in T1D research performed in the United States.

“Diabetes is a health crisis for patients and their families, and a financial crisis for every American,” said Brewer, setting the tone at a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, part of the JDRF 2013 Children’s Congress. “Therefore all of us, especially older Americans, have a serious stake in diabetes research.”

The hearing, “Diabetes Research: Reducing the Burden of Diabetes at All Ages and Stages,” focused on the daily burden that T1D places on the nearly three million Americans living with the disease, including the 150 young Children’s Congress delegates in the room. Supporting JDRF’s cause was a new study, released today, examining the economic impact of diabetes. The study showed that diabetes costs are expected to more than double from $245 billion in 2012 to $512 billion by 2020. The study also showed that Medicare costs from diabetes will also double, from $104 to $226 million. The study’s authors argued that through the continued support of funding like the SDP, breakthroughs in reducing the incidence and severity of T1D become more likely, potentially saving taxpayers billions of dollars.

Smart testified about her own life with T1D, while Allen described how T1D has affected him as a father to six-year-old Walker, a Children’s Congress delegate and fellow congressional witness.

“The Miami Heat played 106 games this past season,” Allen said. “We had game days, practice days, travel days, even a few off days—days to rest, to heal, to rejuvenate and recharge. But, for our son Walker and any family living with T1D, there are no off days… We dream of a day when Walker can leave this disease behind. With the continued support of Congress for the Special Diabetes Program, with the investment of JDRF and the private sector, and with the dedication and commitment of the families surrounding us today, and tens of thousands of others around the country, we will create a world without T1D. We have to.”

In addition to Walker Allen, 14-year-old Quinn Ferguson of Poland Spring, ME, also testified at the hearing. Ferguson was diagnosed with T1D six years ago and has been a strong supporter of research, taking part in a clinical trial funded by the SDP.

Smart discussed advances in diabetes care since she was diagnosed almost 50 years ago, and her hopes for the future: “What I really pray for is that the next generation of young, beautiful children like these will never know the uncertainty and fears of being diabetic or the physical toll it takes on their bodies… I am standing here today able to thank Congress, to thank you and JDRF for all you’ve done to promote type 1 diabetes research and ask that you please continue your efforts so that very soon we can talk about the day we cured this disease.”

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

About T1D

In T1D, a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. People with T1D need to test their blood sugar and give themselves insulin (with injections or an insulin pump) multiple times every day, and carefully balance insulin doses with eating and daily activities throughout the day and night. However, insulin is not a cure for diabetes, and even with that intensive care, a significant portion of the day is still spent with either high or low blood sugar, placing people with T1D at risk for devastating complications such as heart attack, stroke, blindness, and amputation.

About Children’s Congress

The JDRF Children’s Congress program was inspired by eight-year-old Tommy Solo from Massachusetts in 1999. He overheard adult JDRF volunteers talking about going to Washington, D.C., to talk to Congress, and thought it would be great if children could go, too, because their voices also needed to be heard. The idea quickly became a well-developed event, which was first held in 1999. Since then, seven successful Children’s Congresses have occurred, growing in sophistication, every other year (1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011).

Children’s Congress inspires lawmakers to remember the children and adults who live with T1D when making decisions about medical research and voting on other important federal issues relating to diabetes. The young delegates’ stories, told in their own words, are often more powerful than almost any other type of legislator education.

Today, Children’s Congress brings 150 children with T1D, and one parent or guardian each, to Washington, D.C. Children’s Congress participants represent all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and several countries around the world. They come together as advocates to meet on Capitol Hill with Members of Congress and other key federal policymakers to help educate them about the critical need for federal funding of T1D research.

About JDRF

JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF’s goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until we achieve a world without T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, regulatory influence, and a working plan to better treat, prevent, and eventually cure T1D.

As the largest charitable supporter of T1D research, JDRF is currently sponsoring $530 million in scientific research in 17 countries. In 2012 alone, JDRF provided more than $110 million to T1D research. More than 80 percent of JDRF’s expenditures directly support research and research-related education. In 2012, Forbes magazine named JDRF one of its five All-Star charities, citing the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness.

For more information, please visit jdrf.org.

JDRF Media Contact:      
Michael Cook
(917) 574-6737