From Diagnosis to Delegate: One Children’s Congress Delegate’s Story

Read Ryan’s bio

As Harriet Beecher Stowe once said, “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” I most certainly did not have any thoughts in my head that my diagnosis as a type 1 diabetic (T1D) would ever materialize into anything positive. I consider that warm day in July the turning point of my life thus far, and the day that several doors in my life closed, but the day that others opened.

I was diagnosed July 15, 2014, just 9 days after my 16th birthday, certainly NOT my idea of a sweet 16. I had spent two weeks at Fort Drum as part of a JROTC unit, with plans to join the military when I came of age and hopefully attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. Much can happen in two weeks though, and I can attest to that. By the time my mother came to pick me up, I was urinating frequently, drinking water like it was the last of it on Earth, waking up with anguishing muscle spasms in the middle of the night, and suddenly I was nearly 30 pounds lighter. Now I am not a small individual by any means, I eat A LOT and I will be the first one to admit that ‘Lunch!’ is my favorite subject in school. I had left home at about 180 pounds. You do the math—that’s right, I was now 153 pounds exactly when I came home. My mother was absolutely shocked to see her new walking skeleton of a son. I was admitted to the hospital just days later. What I had thought, and had hoped, would simply be a bad case of dehydration turned out to be T1D.

Now fast forward to today. When I came across the link to apply to JDRF 2015 Children’s Congress on the JDRF Advocacy website, I had no clue that I would be chosen, let alone considered to be one of the phenomenally lucky Delegates to represent (in summertime D.C.) the numerous people living with type 1 diabetes in New York and across the United States. To say I am honored would be an understatement. There are Delegates attending who have only known life as a diabetic, and here I am not even a year out from being diagnosed and I get the amazing opportunity – one I will not take for granted – to attend. It can only be described as humbling to say the least.

I am so excited to be able to be among people just like me in this unique way, and talk with people that know exactly what it’s like to be a diabetic. Diabetes has given me confidence and has instilled a purpose in me that was never present before. I want to make a change in this country, and heck, even in the world if I can. I cannot wait to be able to meet the rest of my ‘family,’ because frankly we ARE a family. We all share a common bond that unites us and brings us together with One Voice. To all my soon-to-be brothers and sisters: See ya in Washington!