We are thrilled to welcome our JDRF 2019 Children’s Congress T1D Role Models! The following ten adults have triumphed over type 1 diabetes (T1D) by living full, successful lives and achieving their biggest, boldest dreams. They serve as T1D Role Models not only for our Children’s Congress Delegates, but all youth living with T1D.
Baylor University Women’s Basketball Player
The daughter of former basketball players, Lauren Cox’s skills and love for the game came naturally when she started playing in kindergarten. Now as a 6 foot 4 inch power forward at Baylor University, she has earned the ultimate collegiate achievement, winning the 2019 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. Ranked by ESPN as the “Top Recruit” in the country, Lauren selected Baylor over UConn, Notre Dame and Tennessee. Throughout her college career, she has won numerous awards. Her recent accomplishments include the 2019 NCAA Elite 90 Co-Award Winner, 2018 and 2019 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and four USA Basketball gold medals.
Lauren was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at seven years old. She recalls feeling isolated and reluctant to talk about her diagnosis until she connected with other T1D children and families at a JDRF One Walk®. It was there that she experienced a sense of belonging. Her experiences growing up with T1D and the determination to thrive in the face of the disease have fueled her passion for raising awareness and inspiring other children to live out their dreams.
Originally from London, Ontario, Victor Garber boasts six Emmy® and four Tony® nominations and has starred in some of the most memorable works of film, television and stage.
Victor has co-starred in numerous features including the Academy Award®-winning films, “Argo,” “Self/less,” “Sicario” and “Titanic.” He has also been featured in the Academy Award®–nominated film “Milk,” “The First Wives Club,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Legally Blonde.” His Emmy nominations include three for the ABC drama “Alias,” two for comedic guest-star roles on “Frasier” and “Will & Grace,” and a nomination for “Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.” His Tony® nominations are for his work in “Damn Yankees,” “Lend Me a Tenor,” “Deathtrap” and “Little Me.”
Victor currently recurs on Starz’ “Power,” FOX’s “The Orville” and CW’s “The Flash.” Victor will next be seen in the upcoming feature film, “Dry Run,” directed by Todd Haines.
Victor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at 11 years old. However, he has never allowed it to inhibit his passion for performing. Now as a successful actor, he serves as an ambassador for Beyond Type 1, sharing his platform to raise awareness and advocate for the T1D community.
Aaron J. Kowalski, Ph.D.
JDRF President and CEO
As President and CEO of JDRF, Aaron J. Kowalski, Ph.D., drives strategies to advance JDRF’s mission to cure, prevent, and treat T1D and its complications. He joined JDRF in 2004 and most recently served as Chief Mission Officer, leading research and advocacy strategy. Dr. Kowalski is an internationally recognized scientific expert in the area of T1D research. He has also served as a policy leader for JDRF, regularly advising Congress, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Kowalski’s scientific expertise, his personal experience of living with T1D for more than 35 years and his ability to engage the T1D community enable him to lead JDRF in our fight to end T1D.
Professional Dancer, Motivational Speaker and American Ninja Warrior
Christina Martin lives to dance and jump off obstacles all in the name of diabetes support! She is a professional dancer, fitness trainer for kids and adults and founder of a non-profit organization for diabetes that she started as a teenager, Type Zero Foundation. Christina dances with nationally winning hip hop crew, TheSQUAD and has competed against the rest of the world while living with type 1 diabetes (T1D).
She was invited on Season 11 of NBC’s TV show, “American Ninja Warrior,” where she competed as the first female with T1D on the show!
While also studying sport and exercise science as a full-time student at the University of Central Florida, her goal is to help individuals and families feel stronger with diabetes. Through Christina’s unbreakable determination to live a healthy lifestyle with T1D, she has become an advocate for the T1D community and committed to T1D education.
Ryan Reed’s racing career began at a young age, capturing championship recognitions by eight years old. At the age of 17, he moved from Bakersfield, CA, to North Carolina to surround himself with the racing community.
In 2011, Ryan was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and told that he would never race again. Instead of giving up, he sought guidance from a diabetes medical team who assured him that with hard work, he could continue to live out his dreams. He implemented lifestyle changes, including a nutritional plan, exercise and devices that provide on-track data to his medical team.
Today, Ryan has compiled an impressive list of racing accomplishments. In 2014, he became a full-time NASCAR XFINITY Driver with Roush Fenway Racing, boasting two wins, seven top 5 finishes and 27 top 10 finishes throughout his career. To date, he is the first and only NASCAR driver living with T1D to run a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. In addition to racing, Ryan is passionate about driving awareness and supporting the diabetes community through his foundation, “Ryan’s Mission.”
Sports Reporter and NFL Analyst for ESPN
Adam Schefter has covered the NFL since 1990 and is regarded as one of the top sports reporters in the industry, especially for breaking news. As an NFL analyst for ESPN, he appears on “NFL Live,” “Sunday NFL Countdown,” “Monday Night Countdown” and “SportsCenter.” He also hosts an ESPN podcast and contributes to ESPN.com and ESPN Radio. Adam has been featured in Sports Illustrated’s Power 40+, and ranked number 13 on their Most Powerful People in Sports Media list. In 2014, SI’s NFL site, The MMQB, named him “Media Person of the Year.” His influence also extends to Twitter, where he has more than seven million followers.
Adam has authored five books, his latest titled, “The Man I Never Met: A Memoir.” His other titles include the New York Times’ bestseller, “Romo: My Life on the Edge Living Dreams and Slaying Dragons” and “The Class of Football: Words of Hard-Earned Wisdom from Legends of the Gridiron.”
Adam’s wife, Sharri, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) in 2002. They have been actively involved with JDRF for several years, making it their mission to raise awareness and funds for T1D research. Adam has served as a JDRF Ambassador since 2016.
Fitness Expert, Motivational Speaker and NFL Super Bowl Champion
Isaiah Stanback’s athleticism and passion for sports developed at an early age. By the time he reached high school, he excelled in Varsity Track, Football, Basketball and Baseball, eventually earning letters in all four sports and a full scholarship to the University of Washington where he earned a BA in American Ethnic Studies. Isaiah entered the 2007 draft and was selected in the 4th round by the Dallas Cowboys, where he played for two years before moving on to the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. In 2011, he joined the New York Giants, with whom he earned a Super Bowl ring. He later joined the Jacksonville Jaguars before retiring in 2013.
Outside of football, Isaiah earned his MBA at George Washington University School of Business. He is now the Co-Owner and trainer at Steadfast Fitness and Performance, a personal training and performance facility in Coppell, TX.
Isaiah is a motivational speaker, philanthropist and advocate who supports numerous efforts for youth empowerment and social justice, having been featured on CNBC, Entrepreneurship and Forbes magazines. He is also a champion for the T1D community. His daughter Nadia, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at the young age of three. Since her diagnosis, he has vowed to use his platform to raise awareness and funding for T1D research to find better treatments and a cure for Nadia and the T1D community.
Born in Texas, Jennifer fell in love with acting at six years old. After working in local commercials, television and film, she moved to Los Angeles to broaden her horizons. At the age of 13, she booked her most notable role, Harper on Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place,” which earned her two nominations for a Young Artist Award in 2008 and a Kid’s Choice Award in 2012.
At the age of 20, Jennifer was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D). However, she has never allowed T1D to hinder her dreams. Today, as she continues to pursue her acting career, she’s also working towards a bachelor’s degree. She began studying psychology before changing her major to nursing so that she can help others living with T1D and become a diabetes educator. In addition to acting and school, Jennifer is sharing her platform to raise awareness and serves as an ambassador for Beyond Type 1.
Derek Theler is a successful actor who began his career in 2009. Since then, he has appeared in several television series, including a starring role in the long-running Freeform comedy “Baby Daddy,” Starz’ “American Gods” and the YouTube Red dark comedy, “Wayne.”
Derek was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at the young age of three years old. However, he has never allowed T1D to keep him from pursuing his passion. He wears his Dexcom continuous glucose monitor on the set with pride and seizes every opportunity to help raise awareness for T1D. With no memory of life without diabetes, Derek has made the best of it and is dedicated to living the life he’s always wanted. You can often find him going on outdoor adventures in Colorado and California with his trusty sidekick Neptune (his yellow Labrador) or spreading the word about diabetes research and new technology to children through his work with JDRF.
Professional Stand-Up Paddler and Windsurfer
Fiona Wylde is one of the most decorated athletes in the sport of stand up paddling (SUP). Her ability to compete at the highest level in both SUP racing and SUP surfing makes her unique. Growing up in Hood River, Oregon, and Los Barriles, Mexico, Fiona began windsurf racing at age 11, kitesurfing at age 12 and stand-up paddle boarding at the age of 13. Today, she travels around the world competing on the APP World Tour and has won an overall APP World Championship title in 2017, an honor recognizing her combined victories in international SUP surfing and racing. She has also mounted podiums at some of the most elite events around the globe and won the Columbia Paddle Challenge downwind race for the past two years.
Fiona was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) on her high school graduation day, at the age of 18. However, she refuses to allow T1D to interfere with her dreams. Ranking in the top five in the U.S., she balances travel, training and competing, while managing her T1D. She is also dedicated to T1D education and inspiring adults and children with T1D to live a healthy, full life.