It is my great pleasure to welcome you to Children’s Congress 2011. It is an honor to be leading you during the next few days as we pursue our vital mission: to find a cure for your diabetes, and mine, and the millions all over the world who live with it every day.
Over the years as JDRF’s International Chairman, I’ve worked with many young people just like you, and I’ve learned that nobody can explain what it’s like to live with this disease the way you can. You may be surprised to learn that the idea for Children’s Congress came 12 years ago from a child with type 1 diabetes. Tommy Solo of Massachusetts was just 8 years old when he overheard a group of parents planning to go to Washington to advocate for increased research funding. He interrupted and said to his mother, “Why should you adults go to Congress to ask for funding? Kids with diabetes should go and tell them what it’s like, because we know better than anyone. Maybe then they’ll hurry up and help us find a cure.” And Children’s Congress was born. Every two years in the decade since Tommy’s idea came about, children just like you have taken the message of finding a cure for diabetes to their Members of Congress.
Through each successive Congress, our kids have told their personal stories about life with diabetes, reflected in their hopes, fears, and dreams, and reached out to their representatives to join us in doing everything possible to find a cure. From your letters and messages to Congress, I know that you have the same determination to fight for your own future and the future of all of us with diabetes.
Soon, we’ll be singing our “Promise to Remember Me” anthem to the world; then we’ll “blitz” Capitol Hill through meetings with our Senators and Representatives, telling them our individual stories and asking them to join us in doing everything possible to find a cure. During this twelfth year of Children’s Congress, together, we will ask Congress to continue to help us find a cure both through legislation like the Special Type 1 Diabetes Program, as well as through raising awareness about the need to speed progress on the development of an artificial pancreas. As many of you have already learned, it is truly empowering to know that each and every one of us can meet with our elected officials and have an impact on the issues that affect us most. I know you will make a great impression on our leaders as you ask them to remember you. And I know you will prove once again that you, our children, are our most eloquent and persuasive voices.
I think of each of you as a hero for speaking out, for representing millions of others, and for becoming partners with JDRF, with me, and with everyone who has been fighting to find a cure. I am so proud to join all the Children’s Congress families as part of the vanguard that is speeding the cure.
MARY TYLER MOORE
Chair, JDRF 2011 Children’s Congress