Hailing from all 50 states, 180 JDRF Advocates traveled to Washington D.C. in the beginning of March to say, “Thank You,” to Congress, during JDRF’s 2018 Government Days. Joanne Rash, a member of the JDRF Western Wisconsin Chapter’s Advocacy Team, reflected on her experience and why Advocacy is so important to her!
Traveling to Washington D.C. for JDRF Government Days is truly a privilege. To walk into a room of individuals that have the same passion and dedication to find a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D) is reassuring and welcoming. To feel the urgency of moving technology forward as a common goal is empowering. After several days of meetings and networking, the Wisconsin delegation, which is made up of representatives from all three JDRF Wisconsin Chapters, was ready to “Storm the Hill” and thank Congress for securing funding for T1D research this year! We were prepared to share our stories to further express the importance of continued T1D research.
The Wisconsin delegation combined efforts to meet with all of the State’s representatives from both the House and Senate. It was a pleasure to meet new legislative staff and provide education about T1D. We were able to discuss the importance of the JDRF funded research that advances technology, decreases complications, and provides individual’s the ability to make their own choices about managing their type 1 diabetes. We reviewed that funding for the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) comes back to the state as research dollars.
Each member of the Wisconsin delegation shared our personal stories of how T1D affects us—spouse, child, self. We also had the opportunity for each of us to share our unique diagnosis stories, sometimes with tears in our eyes. As anyone who is living with the disease knows, T1D has an impcat on the entire family. We were able to share that message with the representatives, as well as share our hopes and dreams for the future of our loved ones living with T1D.
Another topic that we covered with the legislative staff was about the technologies available for the T1D community, such as CGMs (Continuous Glucose Monitors) and insulin pumps. We let them know that while these technologies are exciting and helpful, improvements are still needed: more sensitive instruments like CGMs, faster acting insulin or smart insulin, pumps that respond even faster to changes in blood glucose levels, implanted devises that contain insulin producing cells, and biologic cure yet to be discovered. Lastly, we shared the importance for our families to participate in clinical trials for the prevention of T1D – Trial Net. We asked for ongoing future support for research funding for the NIH and FDA!
At the conclusion of JDRF Government Days, I feel recharged to continue to advocate for my child, Henry, and all living with type 1 diabetes. I know that other T1D families rise to the challenge of management every day and that I am not alone. My story is the story of so many. Collectively, I believe that we can create change and improve the lives of all living with T1D! The fundraising and advocacy taking place by everyone involved with JDRF is the foundation for this change. Join me in being a local advocate and sign up today: https://www.jdrf.org/get-involved/jdrf-advocacy/!
A special thank you goes out to Joanne for writing this important message and all the other members of the Wisconsin Advocacy Team!
Jennifer Engel & Sarah Meidl, Northeast WI Advocacy Team from Green Bay
Samantha Siegel, Southeast WI Advocacy Team from Milwaukee
Robin Koppenhaver & Joanne Rash, Western WI Advocacy Team from Madison