A Watseka Community High School student took part in the JDRF Children’s Congress earlier this year.
The JDRF, formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, is a nonprofit organization that funds Type 1 Diabetes research, advocates for government action, and provides support for the Type 1 Diabetes community, said Jackie Lynch. She was one of four students selected to represent Illinois.
Lynch was a delegate earlier this year and she, along with other delegates from around the United States lobbied members of Congress to continue funding of Type 1 Diabetes research.
“JDRF is the world’s largest nonprofit funder of Type 1 Diabetes research. The research is for a cure as well as for technological and other advancements to make life easier with T1D. Current research is focused on the artificial pancreas, beta cell replacement or regeneration, better blood sugar control and prevention of T1D,” she said.
Lynch, a sophomore at WCHS, also noted that November is Diabetes Awareness Month.
The delegation meets every two years in Washington D.C.
“Every two years more than 160 children living with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) gather in Washington, D.C. to meet face-to-face with some of the top decision-makers in the U.S. government. The children, ages 4-17, represent all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This year more than 1,000 children applied to be JDRF Children’s Congress Delegates,” she said. Each delegate can also take one parent with them.
“The Children’s Congress Delegates meet with members of Congress to help them understand what it is like to live with T1D and why it is critical for Congress to fund research for a cure and for life-changing therapies until a cure can be found.
“The delegates speak on behalf of the millions of people living with T1D,” Lynch said.
“Children’s Congress gives delegates the opportunity to meet other kids living with T1D and form friendships, develop leadership skills and encourage kids to be empowered to use their voices to improve their lives and the lives of all people affected by T1D.”
While in Washington, D.C., Lynch said she not only met with other delegates, but also with U.S. leaders and some other famous people.
“The other Illinois delegates and I met with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, and with a staffer for U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth,” Lynch said. “I also met with U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger.
“In each meeting we talked about life with T1D and the need for continued funding of T1D research. A few days after Children’s Congress ended, Senator Durbin told his fellow Senators all about our meeting when he addressed the Senate to discuss the need for lower priced insulin in the United States.
“On the first day of Children’s Congress, the Delegates met role models with T1D including a NASA rocket scientist, FBI agent, and someone who participates in clinical trials for the artificial pancreas.
“The next day we met with celebrities with T1D including Ryan Reed (NASCAR driver), Victor Garber (actor), and Jennifer Stone (actress). On the third and final day of Children’s Congress I spoke to members of Congress. I spent the nights in between exploring Washington, D.C. with fellow teenage delegates.”
Lynch said she told her story to members of Congress.
“I talked to members of Congress about the renewal of the Special Diabetes Program, a program that would give 150 million dollars towards continued T1D research, the high price of insulin, my personal story with T1D, and the need for Federal T1D research funding,” she said.
“I think the trip was a great experience. I was given an amazing opportunity to make a difference by speaking to members of Congress on these issues, as well as to meet many people and share my experiences with them,” she said.
Lynch would attend the Children’s Congress again if she had the opportunity. “But because over 1,000 people apply, they limit people to only going once,” she said.
Lynch said those wanting to make charitable donations can do so through JDRF. Monies go to helping find a cure for T1D.
Lynch is the daughter of John and Susan Lynch, and has a younger brother, Myles.
She participants in several activities at WCHS including golf, basketball, track, show choir and Spanish Club. She is also a member of the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center Teen Advisory panel and volunteers at JDRF events such as the JDRF OneWalk.