Two years ago this February I was asked to be our local chapter’s Advocacy Team Leader. At the time, I had no idea what that entailed, but I knew it was an honor to be asked and I made a promise to do whatever I could to help find a cure for my grandson..so the answer was a no-brainer “Yes”!
It was the middle of JDRF’s Promise to Remember Me Campaign and part of my responsibility was to schedule the “Promise” meetings with our congressmen. I was able to schedule and meet with 2 of our congressmen. I was so nervous, but both of those meetings were also attended by a few long time JDRF advocates who helped relieve my apprehension a little. We shared our stories of living with diabetes, asked them to approve the upcoming Special Diabetes Program, thanked them and the meeting was “in the books”.
A month later I went to Washington DC as Orange County’s representative for JDRF’s Government Day! One of the first people I met was a young mom from Central California. She told me about the great “Promise” meeting she had with her Congressman and she told me something else that really stuck with me. During that meeting, her young son gave his congressman a package of Tic Tac’s and explained to him that those are what he has to eat when his blood sugar is low and he gets shaky! It was a visual reminder for the congressman to remember him! Thank you Promise Co-Chair Laurie DeSchryver for sharing that story with me!!
For this Promise Campaign I realized we needed to help all of those voting on our behalf REMEMBER US after our meetings as well! My grandson Robby, and the reason for my passion, is now away at college and knowing that he would not be able to attend our Promise Meeting with his congressman. I wanted to make sure that Congressman Campbell remembered him when he went back to DC and cast his votes so….
Flat Robby and his mom went to the Promise Meeting!
We have taken Flat Robby to 3 Promise meetings now and he has been a big hit at each one! (Oh, and thanks again Laurie for bringing your Flat Grandma to Government Day last year, another inspiration )!
However, all of the members of congress need to REMEMBER ALL OF OUR LOVED ONES living with diabetes and so with a little help from our
Silly Hats & Caps Advocacy Group
we came up with several “leave behind” ideas that we now use and I have been asked to share them with you!!
We made a bouquets of fabric flowers
Each flower has the face of one of their constituents who is living with Type 1 Diabetes on one side
And simply ask them to remember on the back!
We use a sneaker as the vase, to remind them of JDRF’s Walk to Cure Diabetes!
We have one of the children carry the bouquet and start the meeting by giving it to their congressman. It helps break the ice and get the conversation started!
I always ask the children attending the meeting if they would like share how they manage their diabetes with the congressman (show off their pump, test their blood sugar, etc). That too seems to really grab the “members” attention and is a GREAT OPPORTUNITY to teach someone else more about diabetes!
Once the kids have broken the ice for the rest of us….the adults share their stories of how diabetes has affected their lives…as a person with Type 1, as a parent, as a grandparent etc. At one of our meetings one of the mom’s emptied her purse on the table to show ALL OF THE SUPPLIES she had to carry 24/7 to manage her daughter’s diabetes and have on hand just “in case”!
We always check ahead of time to see if the member is on the Diabetes Caucus, or if they signed the FDA letter, or if they voted for the SDP, etc. and thank them for doing so. If we have an “ask” we explain what we are asking of them and we leave a packet of informational material that JDRF has made available. In that packet I always include a page that my grandson wrote the year after he was diagnosed..
Facts about Diabetes
In one day, I test my blood sugar 12 times
In one month, I will test 372 times
In one year, I will test 4,464 times
In my lifetime, I will test at least 424,080 times
I inject insulin into me 5 times a day
In one month, I will inject insulin 150 times
In one year, I will inject insulin 1,825 times
In my lifetime I will inject insulin 173,375 times
As many as 3 million Americans may have Type 1 Diabetes
Each year over 13,000 children are diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. That’s 35 children each and every day!
Diabetes remains a leading cause of heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and amputations.
Please Help JDRF
Find a CURE
My daughter-in-law came up with another awesome “leave behind” that we started using for our walk team, but are now using with Promise and other activities as well.
We take lifesaver candies,
attach a picture of someone in our chapter living with T1d and simply say..
”Be a lifesaver and help find a cure”
These “Promise” meetings are so important to help put a face to Type 1 Diabetes. If we can influence even one congressman’s feelings toward diabetes, it could mean the difference in the approval of funding of millions of dollars towards research. The meetings last no more than 15 to 20 minutes and if we can leave something with them that will continue to remind them what we’ve taught them in that short time….we truly are making a difference!