A Numbers Game, or: We Are All Number One

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Congratulations, kid, you’re going to Washington! Now what?

 

 

Reed GialketsisBy Reed Gialketsis
(17 years old, Nevada)

At this year’s Children’s Congress, 161 kids and teens will gather in Washington, D.C. But there’s another number that I think deserves attention―the more than 1,300 kids who applied for the event but won’t be going. While I’m so excited to hear that so many people applied this year, the huge number is also a bit shocking. My school has 1,300 students, and five have type 1 diabetes (T1D)―compared to other schools, five is a pretty large number! So when I think about more than a thousand kids applying for the chance to go to Children’s Congress, it really starts to put it all in perspective.

So, congratulations, kid, you’re going to Washington! Now what? Why am I going to Children’s Congress? What do I want to accomplish?

My answer, in short: because of those 1,300 kids, and what I can accomplish for them.

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Just a few of my wonderful friends in the Nevada Chapter Youth Ambassador Program

At least five kids from my local JDRF Youth Ambassador Program applied―and that doesn’t even begin to cover the kids in my chapter, or in my state! They all deserve to go to Washington. But sadly, only so many kids can go. So I am making it a special goal to make them proud by representing them.

Although 1,300 is a big number, it’s only a small fraction of the children and adults around the world who have T1D―and the numbers are growing! That’s what I want to convey to my legislators: this problem, T1D, does not stop at me, at my fellow state delegates (Grant and Matthew―I can’t wait to meet you guys!), or at any of the children who will be there. Because while 161 kids will flood Capitol Hill this July, the other 1,300 applicants will be at home, battling blood sugars and boluses and everything else a person with T1D deals with every single day. More so, T1D does not stop at these children. There are people who cannot attend Children’s Congress because they’re too old or―in my opinion even more frightening―too young to apply. But as long as we have to live without a cure for this disease, kids will keep applying to Children’s Congress.

I’ve always said I never want to see a child go through what I’ve had to with T1D. I know that Children’s Congress is a fantastic way to work toward a cure. And I know that when I’m speaking to my Members of Congress, I’ll be speaking on behalf of my state, my local JDRF chapter, and every person with T1D who isn’t on Capitol Hill. And we’ll keep coming back until we find a cure.

To learn more about Reed, please visit her Children’s Congress delegate page or her personal blog: The Secret Life of the Diabetic Teenager.