It is true what they say: the third time’s the charm.
I say this because the first two times I applied for Children’s Congress (for cc 99 and cc 01), I was turned down. But the third time, in 2003 when I was 11 years old, I was given the honor of representing my state, Massachusetts at Children’s Congress.
Before I even got there, I realized something: this was not a vacation, it was a mission. There was much I had to be responsible for as a CC delegate. I had to create a scrapbook telling the story of my life with diabetes. I had to write letters to make appointments with Senators and Congressmen (it helped that I had done all my Promise to Remember Me visits in years before that so the offices knew me). I had to make media appearances and do lots of interviews. It was hard work.
And even harder work when I got to DC for the event. JDRF keeps the delegates very busy. We not only had to learn and practice songs, we had to take in lessons on legislation we were trying to pass. There was no time for sightseeing, we were busy from early morning until late at night. But it was fun too. I got to meet a ton of kids from around the world. One kid was the son of my mom’s best friend from when she was my age (they had not seen each other since that age until CC!) Another, who is still my good friend, was from the United Kingdom. Many of us still keep in touch with each other and support each other. I understood back then how lucky I was to have been chosen, and I promised to keep on working for JDRF after CC was over.
And I did. I was invited back to speak before the US Senate on my own (not as part of a JDRF Event) that got JDRF and the need for a cure lots of exposure. I was invited to speak as part of the Democratic National Convention. And my family was chosen to be the “Chair Family” of CC 2005. Now that was really hard work. I found being Chairkid was harder than even being a delegate since you have even more work to do. But I understood again that it was important work and I was willing to do it.
In a few weeks I will head down toward Washington DC to be a freshman at George Mason University majoring in communications with a concentration in political persuasion. I have no doubt I have been motivated to do this by my experiences at JDRF. I have seen first hand how a person can work to make things better within the political system. I have felt what it is like to convince senators and congressmen to vote in a way that helps not just me but many.
But I want to say, if you are not selected for CC 11, don’t think it’s the end of the world. For me, the third time was the charm. And all the things I did between trying and finally getting to go – from Promise to Remember Me meetings to my chapters walk and gala to speaking at local events and to just simply answering advocacy calls were just as important as going to CC could ever be. Maybe even more important. So kids, send in your applications, but don’t stress. You are needed from this moment, whether you end up at CC in 2011 or not. Look how it worked out for me. Yep, third time’s the charm!
Delegate, 2003 Children's Congress
Chairkid, 2005 Children's Congress