Two Richmond girls joined more than 150 children ages 4 to 17 on a critical mission to Washington D.C. this summer. Representing the JDRF Central Virginia Chapter, Bridgette Schutt, 6, and Kamryn Anderson, 12, traveled to our nation’s capital as delegates to the biennial JDRF Children’s Congress to personally urge their lawmakers to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D).
JDRF is an international nonprofit organization whose mission is to cure, treat and prevent T1D by funding medical research and community outreach. Its Central Virginia Chapter is located in Richmond. T1D differs from type 2 diabetes in that it is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas stops producing insulin. Roughly half of the 30,000 new diagnoses in the U.S. each year are among children who develop the disease through no fault of their own. Complications can be fatal and may include blindness, heart attack, and stroke.
The girls, speaking on behalf of JDRF to their members of Congress, specifically advocated for increased research funding that can help develop diabetes management devices like the Artificial Pancreas, a device that is currently in clinical trials right in our backyard at UVA. The Project represents a revolutionary way to treat and manage T1D and offers the hope of dramatically improving the lives of millions of people with the disease. The young Richmond delegates felt their congressmen were interested in what their lives are like with T1D, and, for Kamryn, “It was awesome to share my story with such important decision makers knowing they may help all of us with the funding needed to help find a cure.”
But for Bridgette and Kamryn, the experience wasn’t all about advocating for more research funding and support. They, probably like many other Children’s Congress delegates, appreciated being surrounded by “kids from all over the world that were just like me, so I didn't have to feel odd or like I didn't belong because no one understood my struggle.” Furthermore, the experience gave Kamryn and Bridgette a sense of empowerment. As part of such a passionate community fighting for a common goal, these girls felt that they could help make a difference in the battle to find a cure.
Click here for more information about delegate Kamryn.
Click here for more information about delegate Bridgette.
Article by Cynthia Proctor. Cindy is an active JDRF volunteer and event committee member. She is the “eyes and ears” of the local T1D community and posts her most relevant findings and updates on the JDRF blog at www.centralvirginia.jdrf.org. Cindy was first connected to the T1D community after a family friend was diagnosed with the disease.