JDRF Announces Celebrity Advocates and Town Hall Panelists for Children’s Congress 2011

JDRF Announces Celebrity Advocates and Town Hall Panelists for Children’s Congress 2011

June 13, 2011

Contact:          Joana Casas, 212.479.7560, mcasas@jdrf.org  


Singer Crystal Bowersox, Olympic swimmer Gary Hall Jr. among others joining children and teens with type 1 diabetes on Capitol Hill to advocate for diabetes research;

Live webcast of “Role Models with Type 1 Diabetes” Town Hall Panel available  

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 13, 2011 – Leading figures from the entertainment, television, and professional sports arenas will join more than 150 children and teenage delegates from all over the United States and abroad, as well as JDRF’s International Chairman Mary Tyler Moore, for JDRF’s 2011 Children’s Congress from June 20 to June 22, 2011. While in Washington, D.C., they will advocate for urgent regulatory action to advance the artificial pancreas and continued support of federal funding for research for a cure for type 1 diabetes – a disease that affects all the celebrities and the young delegates in attendance at the event. 

Olympic gold medalist and swimmer Gary Hall Jr., professional LPGA golfer Carling Coffing, winner of Amazing Race 17 Dr. Nat Strand, and NFL football player Kendall Simmons are among the panelists for JDRF’s Town Hall panel, “Role Models with Type 1 Diabetes.” ESPN anchor Brian Kenny is the emcee for the panel. Joining the panelists will be JDRF’s Assistant Vice President of Treatment Therapies Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D. The Town Hall is an opportunity for the delegates to interact with these diverse professionals, as they share their experiences of managing the disease while pursuing their professional dreams. The event will take place on Tuesday, June 21, at 10:30 a.m. ET in the J.W. Marriott Hotel, located on 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. This portion of the Town Hall panel will be webcast live at www.cc.jdrf.org/LIVE. Viewers can also join the conversation by following @JDRFAdvocacy on Twitter, and add the hashtag, #JDRFcc11.

Following the Town Hall panel, recording artist Crystal Bowersox will lead the event’s traditional performance of the “Promise to Remember Me” song on Tuesday, June 21 at 3:30 p.m. ET at Upper Senate Park, located at 200 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. “This song and its message will remind Congress that diabetes research can help improve my life, the lives of others living with type 1 diabetes, and can eventually eliminate the disease once and for all,” said Bowersox in her video announcement about joining Children’s Congress.     

“We are thrilled to have such a dynamic group of people joining us this year,” said JDRF Children’s Congress 2011 Chair Stefany Shaheen. “They each have a unique story of perseverance, dedication, and strength that we hope will inspire our delegates and their families, and provide a positive example in the fight against this disease.”

JDRF’s Children’s Congress, one of the most powerful advocacy events on Capitol Hill, has been held every other year since 1999 and become the largest media and grassroots advocacy event held in support of finding better treatments and a cure for type 1 diabetes. The child delegates with type 1 diabetes will talk about the personal impact the disease has made on their bodies and their lives. This event is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the selected delegates, who will visit with legislators and administration officials to raise awareness about type 1 diabetes, and participate in personal advocacy at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

This year, the delegates will urge federal officials to take immediate action to accelerate the regulatory process for research and review of artificial pancreas systems, which could transform the lives of people with type 1 diabetes. Delegates will also advocate for continued federal commitment for diabetes research and thank Congress for its renewal last December of the Special Diabetes Program, which accounts for one-third of all federal research for type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that strikes children and adults suddenly, and can be fatal. Until a cure is found, people with type 1 diabetes have to test their blood sugar and give themselves insulin injections multiple times or use a pump – each day, every day of their lives. And even with that intensive care, insulin is not a cure for diabetes, nor does it prevent its potential complications, which may include kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, and amputation. Diabetes accounts for $174 billion in health care costs in the United States each year.

About the JDRF Children’s Congress 2011 Celebrity Advocates:

Crystal Bowersox

Crystal Bowersox began performing professionally at the age of 10 and was writing songs by the age of 13. Before landing a spot on the ninth season of America Idol, Crystal got her start playing in roadside diners and coffee houses. Six months before heading to Chicago to compete on American Idol, Crystal won the Blade Battle of the Bands competition in Toledo. Her debut album, Farmer’s Daughter, was released in December 2010 under Jive Records. Crystal will lead the Song Performance, “Promise to Remember Me” at Children’s Congress.

Carling Coffing

Professional golfer Carling Coffing is in her fourth season on the Duramed Future Tour. She was twice named to the Big Ten All-Conference Second Team, and in 2010, she was winner of the Golf Channel’s Big Break: Sandals Resort Series. Diagnosed at age five, she hopes that through her success and exposure on the golf course, she can be a role model for children with diabetes. Carling donated a portion of her 2010 professional golf earnings to JDRF. She will be a role-model panelist at Town Hall during Children’s Congress.

Gary Hall Jr.

After being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1999, Gary was told by doctors that he would never again be able to compete at the same level that won him four Olympic medals in swimming, including two gold, at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Gary proved his doctors wrong by winning his first individual gold at the 2000 Olympics and again in 2004. At the age of 29, Gary became the oldest male in 80 years to win gold for the U.S. Olympic Team. This year, Gary will be a role-model panelist at Town Hall during Children’s Congress.

Brian Kenny

Brian is the anchor of ESPN’s flagship sports news and information program, SportsCenter. He also hosts ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, ESPN Classic’s Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame, ESPN Radio’s Brian Kenny Show, and several other programs in the ESPN family of networks. He received a Sports Emmy Award in 2003, was named Sports Illustrated‘s 2004 “Media Personality of the Year,” and was the 2005 recipi­ent of the Sam Taub Award. His daughter Cammy was a 2007 Children’s Congress delegate. Brian will be featured as the host of Town Hall and the Song Performance at this year’s Children’s Congress.

Kendall Simmons

Kendall Simmons is an NFL football guard who has played with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, and Buffalo Bills. In 2005, Kendall, along with his Steelers teammates, defeated the Seattle Seahawks at Ford Field in Detroit, MI to win Super Bowl XL. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes before the 2003 season, and will be a role-model panelist at Town Hall during Children’s Congress.

Nat Strand

Natalie Strand is an anesthesiologist who, along with fellow doctor and friend Kat Change, won the 2010 reality TV Amazing Race competition. On The Amazing Race, contestants race around the world to compete in challenges with little money and only a backpack to defeat their competition. Nat has been living with type 1 diabetes since the age of 12, and this year, she will be a role-model panelist at Town Hall during Children’s Congress.

Mary Tyler Moore

Through her courage, honesty, and willingness to share her personal story publicly, actress Mary Tyler Moore, in her role as International Chairman for 27 years, has provided real leadership to JDRF. Having had type 1 diabetes for over 40 years, she has used her visibility to gain greater awareness of the seriousness of diabetes and the urgent need for a cure through her frequent visits to Capitol Hill. As Chairman of Children’s Congress, Mary will participate in a number of events.

About JDRF

JDRF is the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Driven by passionate, grassroots volunteers connected to children, adolescents, and adults with this disease, JDRF is now the largest charitable supporter of T1D research. The goal of JDRF research is to improve the lives of all people affected by T1D by accelerating progress on the most promising opportunities for curing, better treating, and preventing T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners who share this goal.

Since its founding in 1970, JDRF has awarded more than $1.7 billion to diabetes research. Past JDRF efforts have helped to significantly advance the care of people with this disease, and have expanded the critical scientific understanding of T1D. JDRF will not rest until T1D is fully conquered. More than 80 percent of JDRF’s expenditures directly support research and research-related education.