With one Oscar, two Tony Awards, and numerous other accolades in his nearly 40-year acting career, Kevin Kline can have his pick of some pretty meaningful roles. But one in particular—that of JDRF advocate—is his all-time favorite.
Mr. Kline has been one of JDRF’s most dedicated and long-standing volunteers, first testifying on behalf of JDRF at the 2001 Children’s Congress and serving as Chair of JDRF’s Walk to Cure Diabetes, the foundation’s largest fundraising program, from 2006 to 2010. He fulfilled these roles while continuing to serve as a member of the New York Chapter Board of Directors from 2000 to 2011. He currently co-chairs JDRF’s Research Advocacy Program.
At this year’s Children’s Congress, he appeared on CNN’s American Morning with Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D., JDRF’s Assistant Vice President of Treatment Therapies; was featured in several on-site interviews; and visited Senator Al Franken of Minnesota with delegates Maxwell Anderson and Cody Theis, both nine years old.
In his testimony to the Senate panel led by Senator Susan M. Collins, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and founder of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, Mr. Kline represented the experience shared by every parent in the room, and hundreds of thousands more. “When a child is first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the parents are thrust immediately into the additional roles of doctors, nurses, nutritionists, and even psychologists. They’re on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” he said. “Blood sugar emergencies are all too common, and a number of parents here have had to call 911 to save their children’s lives.”
Mr. Kline’s testimony focused largely on the artificial pancreas—an automated, closed-loop system consisting of a continuous glucose monitor, an insulin infusion pump, and software to link the two. The system—early versions of which are already in use in more than 40 countries—is awaiting approval for final stages of testing from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Apart from finding a cure, the artificial pancreas represents a watershed moment in the management of diabetes, and it happens to be a parent’s dream-come-true,” said Mr. Kline.
His words succinctly reflected the hopes of many. “Imagine knowing that your child will have a long, productive life, since these artificial pancreas technologies have the potential to keep him or her healthier longer, forestalling or completely circumventing devastating complications until a cure is found.”