WASHINGTON – A crowd of children dressed in blue attended a U.S. Senate hearing recently, representing the 1.25 million Americans with Type 1 diabetes.
"It is truly inspiring to look out and see this wave of Carolina blue," committee chairwoman Sen. Susan Collins (R - Maine) said during the Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing.
The hearing named, "Redefining Reality: How the Special Diabetes Program is Changing the Lives of Americans with Type 1 Diabetes," featured 160 delegates of the JDRF Children's Congress.
A similar effort by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation happens every two years to renew funding for the Special Diabetes Program (SDP).
"These research dollars are yielding results. We now spend more than a billion dollars on diabetes research," Collins said.
Currently, each part of the SDP is funded annually at $150 million. The money goes to the National Institutes for Health to continue advancements in technology such as continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), the artificial pancreas and beta cell therapy. The latest bill calls for five years of funding for research.
"Senators, I don't want my brothers and sisters to get Type 1 diabetes. We need more research to find a cure," Ruby Anderson, age 9, said during her testimony at the hearing.
The JDRF delegates involved in Children's Congress met with senators and representatives to share their personal experience and to ask for support for the SDP renewal.
"Seeing them in person really makes a big impact on, like, how they're voting," said Claire Goodowens, JDRF delegate from Florida.
Goodowens has been active in raising awareness about the rising costs of insulin in the weeks leading up to Children's Congress.
Another Orlando representative, Christina Martin, served as a Type 1 role model.
"For me, when I was 13, when I was diagnosed with diabetes, it was a dream of mine to be able to inspire other kids and, you know, bring the community together," Martin said.
A bill to renew SDP for five years advanced in the Energy and Commerce Committee following the hearing. If it does not pass in a vote, the SDP will expire in September.