Way back in the old days when I was Chair-Mom of Children's Congress, applicants had to use sticks to scratch their essays onto stone tablets and then have them shipped to Washington via oxen cart. Okay, well, it wasn’t that bad back before CC 2005, but we certainly didn’t have the fantastic tools that make applying such a snap today.
Now, you can apply on line or – even better – right on Facebook. And if you apply on Facebook by the end of August, you’ll even be entered in a contest to win a spot at Children's Congress 2011. Think that’s kind of a big deal? Well, it is. When you consider the large pool of applicants this awesome event draws each time around, a chance to simply “win” a spot is up there, for many of us, with winning the lottery.
So why would a family want a child to go to Children's Congress? For my family, it was because – thanks to taking part in Promise to Remember Me meetings and many other chapter events — my daughter (and I) developed a keen interest in how what happens on Capitol Hill can positively impact the progress toward a cure for Type 1 Diabetes. As Lauren blogged a few weeks ago, she applied three times before being accepted. Was she disappointed the times she did not go? Well, a tiny bit. But each time, she learned something more about herself.
And when we did go – and then chair the event – we got so much more out of it than we ever imagined. For Lauren and for me, making an impact on the Hill was a profound experience. Lauren spoke so well before Congress, she was invited back again by our beloved Senator Kennedy to be the only patient of any kind to speak at a key hearing a year later (giving JDRF even more exposure). She appeared three times as a guest on CNN Live, and even spoke as part of the Democratic National Convention.
But the most precious thing she and I took away from the experience are the bonds of friendship that still remain so strong all these years later. Lauren made friends at Children's Congress she still counts among her closest pals. I bonded with other parents – and kids – and still keep in close touch with them all. Nothing gives me greater joy than seeing how my “CC kids and families” are out there making a difference in the world. I’m still hoping for my first “CC wedding announcement” (Those teens really do get close!) and I love that I have Facebook to know what all my families are up to. We all talk all the time, about diabetes issues, walk team ideas and just how we are all doing. Lauren and I will have that forever.
The point of Children's Congress is to move research forward and to put a face on diabetes that the world not only understands but is moved to take action by. But the byproduct for those attending is just as sweet: you’ll build a new “cc family” that will be way more to you than just Facebook friends.
Sit down, log on and apply. I cannot wait to friend you on Facebook.
Moira McCarthy Stanford
2005 Children's Congress