Dear Children’s Congress Delegates and Families:
I am thrilled to join you all here in Washington, D.C., for this incredible event! As event co-chair, I am honored to serve next to our wonderful event chair, Angie Platt—a dedicated mother of a child with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and one of JDRF’s most energetic volunteers. Angie has worked very hard to make this one of the most memorable trips of your young lives!
JDRF has been an important part of my family’s life for 12 years. In the fall of 2000, one of my three children, Julia, was diagnosed with T1D. She was 12 years old. I know I don’t have to tell you about the challenges she faced over the next months and years, or about how she triumphed over them to become an exceptional young woman. You have all had similar experiences, and you are all examples of triumph every day.
As JDRF’s national volunteer leader for advocacy, I have met and worked with many families like yours. And I am here to tell you that, through our combined advocacy efforts, we have seen real results! The advocacy we do as JDRF 2013 Children’s Congress delegates will help our lawmakers understand why federal funding of the Special Diabetes Program—which provides $150 million for T1D research—is important. These face-to-face meetings are not only interesting and fun, they also “put a face on T1D” for our legislators. Sharing our stories is an opportunity for us to share our challenges and our hopes for a future without T1D.
Julia and I will never forget our first meeting with a Member of Congress— Congressman Jim Ramstad in 2005, and Julia was 16. I have since attended dozens of similar meetings, and I know firsthand how personally empowering it is to participate in the American democratic process by speaking to your elected representatives—even before you are old enough to vote! Here, as delegates of Children’s Congress, your own individual feelings of empowerment will be multiplied by everyone around you, and I promise, the results will be astounding! Every state across the country is represented here, as well as six JDRF international affiliates.
As one of the largest advocacy events in Washington, D.C., Children’s Congress is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My daughter Julia was a delegate in 2005, and the experience was unforget- table. While you focus your energies on being the best delegates you can be, I hope you will also take some time after Children’s Congress to visit our wonderful capital city. Washington, D.C., is filled with treasures that are free and open to everyone. It is a great place to make memories with your families and celebrate new friendships.
Thank you for joining JDRF here and being a voice for all people with T1D. Everyone talks about children being the leaders of the future. I hope Children’s Congress will show you that you are all leaders right now.
National Volunteer Leader for Advocacy Co-Chair, JDRF 2013 Children’s Congress