This is Brian Herrick and Kady Helme reporting each day from 2015 JDRF Children’s Congress.
Yesterday was a travel day for most of our delegates and staff, who came from all 50 states and 6 countries to Washington, D.C. to speak with one voice about the importance of continued federal funding for T1D research. Over 400 kids, teens, and adults trickled into D.C., registered, and got their materials for the next 3 days. Before arriving in Washington D.C. the delegates had been using the hashtag #JDRFCC4DC to post about getting ready for their big trip. During registration we had the posts on a “social wall” and the delegates were thrilled to see theirs on display.
After all delegates arrived, we had our first official event, the delegate social, where the delegates had a chance to meet each other and interact with a few of our celebrity advocates. Each delegate came with a gift from their hometown, which included buckeye candies from Ohio and pocket constitutions from Philadelphia. Our celebrity advocates were on hand to speak about what they do and how they haven’t let T1D prevent them from achieving their dreams of playing professional football and traveling the world snowboarding down the tallest peaks. Kady and I certainly enjoyed meeting dozens of delegates and watching them make connections and post selfies on social media with the #JDRFCC hashtag.
After the social, all our delegates gathered for dinner where we heard inspirational words from Cynthia Rice, SVP Advocacy and Policy, Derek Rapp, President and CEO, and Kimberly Roosevelt, 2015 Children’s Congress Chair. The highlight of dinner was when each delegate walked onto stage and introduced themselves. Those 163 delegates are representative of the millions with T1D who we are here to advocate for. After seeing pictures of our delegates and reading their stories for the past several months, it was such a pleasure to get to see them all in person.
Behind the scenes, JDRF leadership from the US and abroad were meeting with key partners such as the embassies from each of our six affiliates in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Israel, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
Day 1 was exciting, but Tuesday is when the real work begins. We’ll have a Town Hall with all our celebrity advocates and prepare for our meetings with Members of Congress on Wednesday. This Children’s Congress is certainly powerful and they have a very important story to tell.