After months of anticipation and a lot of hard work, we’re finally ready to storm Capitol Hill!
Yesterday was the final day of preparation for our 163 delegates. Today, JDRF Advocacy staff gave region-specific training to our delegates on how to have the most impactful Hill visits possible. We want every Senator and Congressperson to leave their delegates meetings fully understanding that the federal government MUST continue to support type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Our delegates are ready to make that happen.
Yesterday wasn’t all work, though. During breakfast, several speakers, including our own Children’s Congress alum Kady Helme (2005 delegate), as well as Turner Rapp (2009 delegate), spoke to the audience about taking what they’ve learned here at Children’s Congress back to their home state, and about the importance of continuing to advocate and volunteer. During lunch, we gave Medtronic Social Media Contest awards to Katherine Willems (AZ) and Drake Bennett (KY) for their respective age groups. The awards were based on the creativity of their posts and the number of likes/favorites/reTweets. Congrats to them both! In addition, our very important sponsors and foundation partners were also honored at the lunch, which you can learn more about here.
The highlight of the day for both of us was the Town Hall, hosted by Adam Schefter. At the Town Hall, our delegates had the opportunity to learn and interact with our eight T1D role models, who answered the delegates’ questions about how they are achieving their dreams despite having T1D. Each of our panelists gave funny, courageous, honest answers, which included:
- Este Haim, singer/songwriter, explaining how her family helps her manage her T1D while she’s on the road and performing on stage with her band Haim
- Sean Busby, professional snowboarder, explaining how he tweaks his T1D management based on climate changes and how snowball fights can dislodge his Omnipods
- Becky Furuta, elite cyclist, talking about what it’s like to be on a team of people all with T1D and how she juggles being a professional cyclist, a mother of 2, and a small business owner
- Adam Lasher, singer/songwriter, telling a story about how pricking his fingers makes him a better guitar player
- Carling Nolan, pro golfer, sharing her favorite candy to eat when her blood sugar gets low and how she manages her diet during a day on the golf course
- Aaron Kowalski, JDRF Chief Mission Officer, highlighting the top advances that have him excited for the future and sharing a little about his relationship with his brother who also has T1D
- Austin Basis, actor, talking about how he manages T1D on set and his very specific requests for what he drinks when low
- Brandon Denson, pro football player, discussed where he wears his pump when he plays football
- Adam Schefter, sports reporter, explaining how he supports his wife with T1D
The Town Hall closed with Sean Busby sharing a story on how reading delegate profiles from a previous JDRF Children’s Congress helped him move past his overwhelming initial diagnosis and understand that he could still achieve his dreams. He told the delegates that they should be looked up to for how they overcome T1D just as much as the eight role models sitting on the panel.
It was a fun, interactive learning experience for everyone, and Kady and I even picked up a few things to try in our own T1D lives. We’re both grateful that all of our role models and celebrities took the time to come down to DC and share their stories about living with T1D with us!
Tonight, our delegates have a much-deserved night off. Tomorrow we will rise with the sun and head out to the Hill to do the work we came here to do. It’s incredibly apparent that our small army of delegates is ready to go!