Thursday, April 4, 2013

Long Overdue . . . . .

So I’ve been putting off writing about Government Day because it’s really hard to write event recap posts, isn’t it?  Or am I the only one who feels totally overwhelmed and unequipped to put all of the experiences and inspirations into words.  It’s almost like trying to explain what a low blood sugar feels like - I can rattle off the symptoms but you won’t really get it unless you’ve had a low too.  But going to Government Day is a million times better than having a bad low, so I really want to try to bring some of the experience to you.

When I look back on my four days in D.C., three major components stand out.  The people I was with, the information that was shared, and the time spent advocating to our government representatives.  I’m going to start with the whole reason more than 160 volunteers traveled to D.C. - advocating on Capitol Hill.

I never would’ve imagined I’d right there in front of the U.S. Capital building.

When we storm “the Hill” on our last day and a half in D.C., we are well prepared with a clear mission. Last year it was to urge our officials to support the renewal of the Special Diabetes Program. The SDP has two components and each piece provides $150 million towards diabetes research. It was renewed as we rang in the New Year as part of the Fiscal Cliff package, so our mission this year was to thank our representatives for the renewal. However, it was only renewed for one year, so we also let them know we’d be contacting them later in the year to ask for support again.  It’s important to lock in a renewal as soon as possible, because the funding ensures that the research being done now on things such as the Artificial Pancreas will continue.  After all, if I was a researcher working on a project whose funding was about to run out, you’d better believe I’d look for a new project to work on that had funds locked in.  There are so many exciting treatments and technologies being developed for Type 1 Diabetes right now and it’s important to ensure they will continue.  (More on that when I write about the information presented at Government Day!)

There is an amazing feeling that comes from being up on Capital Hill working for something you are passionate about.  I walk the halls of the Senate and House offices knowing that many aren’t lucky enough to get the chance to experience what I’m experiencing.  Honestly, I’m complete crap when it comes to fundraising - always have been and probably always will be.  But when I’m advocating on the Hill, I’m helping to raise $300 million for diabetes treatments and technologies.  Not too shabby!  I team up with the advocates from the other Connecticut JDRF chapters and we educate our officials about the research going on and about what living with diabetes (or being the parent of a child with diabetes) is like.  I often can give them a first hand example, as all that walking around Capital Hill usually has my low alarm blaring as I chomp glucose tabs in the Congressional offices!

Participating in Government Day also reminds me of how lucky I am that the members of Congress from Connecticut are all very supportive of diabetes issues and funding.  It’s eye opening to see that not all states can say the same.  Hearing stories from other advocates about tough meetings on the Hill makes me appreciate the reps I meet with all the more.  It also  makes me appreciate my fellow JDRF Advocacy volunteers who don’t give up even when their representatives aren’t receptive to our cause.  It helps me remember just how much each and every constituent's voice counts and how important it is to let the government know how crucial diabetes funding is.  It’s why I’m proud to volunteer as a JDRF advocate and why I hope everyone who reads this post will sign up too.


  1. Thanks for the recap post, Karen. Mostly, thanks for doing what you do in advocating and getting our D-Community's voice heard on the Hill. I find Govt Day and legislative lobbying by the D-orgs fascinating, moreso on how they all seem to storm at the same time - and interestingly, all of the advocating always seems to happen as Congress is working on a deadline to pass a budget or some continuing resolution... no real reason for that I'd guess, but it's just very interesting and may be a reason for some of how they respond (or in some cases, don't respond). I'd be interested in your take on the post I wrote over at DM a couple weeks ago about D-Advocacy on the Hill, particularly with your first-hand experience...

  2. Thank you for going! JDRF needs adult advocates. One T1 adult went from our state and noticed a palpable change in legislators' attitudes when introduced to her - a voting, tax-paying adult. Helps them realize that the kids grow up.
    So bummed I got sick and couldn't go, but so glad I can experience it vicariously!

    1. Kristin, I was looking for you and disappointed not to see you this year! Sorry to hear you were sick. Fingers crossed that we are both there next year! :)

  3. I totally have a hard time writing recap posts - you are SO not alone in that.

    I was blessed with an opportunity to experience JDRF Government Day a couple years back, and your post brought back vivid memories. I'd say that's a job well done. :-)

    Thank you for taking time out of your life and volunteering for a cause so near to all of us.


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