JDRF – Promise To Remember Me

The JDRF volunteers around the Minneapolis area are very active.  I’m lucky to live here so I can participate in some of the great things they are doing.

My trip to Capitol Hill early in the year helped me get to know some of the people in the Grassroots Advocacy team, and since then we’ve worked to keep the relationships going and the advocacy efforts moving.

Group shot of us with Erik PaulsenMonday is a great example.  A group of about 12-13 of us met with our district congressman, Erik Paulsen.

This time of year the JDRF Promise Campaign swings into full steam.  The idea behind this is to get local families and those living with type 1 diabetes to tell their story to their local representative, and ask them to “remember me” when they are on Capitol Hill making decisions that will affect us.

The JDRF Advocacy group does a great job of organizing “asks”.  That is, what are we to ask for while we are there?  This provides a consistent set of high level pushes coming from as many of the congressmen and representatives that we can get on board.  We did our best to intermingle these asks into our personal stories, and the truth is that they actually fit very well there.

We spent about a half-hour visiting with Congressman Paulsen, and it was clear to me that he was interested in doing whatever he could to help.  He gave each of us his undivided attention, and asked some great questions.

We talked about the continued support of funding to the NIH and FDA, and lobbying the FDA to keep things moving with the artificial pancreas.   We talked about concerns over healthcare, and how many of the parents were terrified about satisfactory coverage.  We talked about the financial burdens of life with type 1 diabetes, and the scary instances of those we’ve lost.

My impressions when it was all said and done?  He gets it.  He gets it and will do all that he can to help (within the political and logistical limits he’s bound to).

The world is not going to change as a result of one meeting, a few meetings, or even a hundred meetings.  But as we continue to push for better, and develop relationships where possible, they will remember us as they are on The Hill battling out budget cuts and voting on proposals.  That is why “Promise To Remember Me” is important.

As a normal, average, everyday Scott, living life with type 1 diabetes – was it much to ask for me to volunteer a couple hours of my afternoon?  Not at all.  As someone who is totally politically ignorant, was it intimidating to do?  Absolutely.  But you know what, it was easy.  It was all about telling my story about life with type 1 diabetes.  That’s it.  One person to another.

Do not be afraid to get involved.  If I can do it, anyone can.

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10 thoughts on “JDRF – Promise To Remember Me

  1. Awesome Scott! I just signed up tonight. My local chapter has been less than interested in stepping up their efforts so we will see if I can become more involved this way.

  2. Hello Scott
    Thanks for your blog. I applaud what you are doing here. Great to stay in touch with our members of congress, especially while they are home now.

    I have done the same with JDRF member much younger than me, at the office of Chris Van Hollen in Maryland, my true home.

    Please feel free to contact me if you would like any information about what we are doing at Spring.

  3. Scott, it makes me so happy and inspired to read this story. I also remember you wrote another post talking about how government advocacy can seems scary when you’ve never done it before, but how it was actually very easy and rewarding. I was just mentioning that on a phone call earlier this week. That call was with some of the JDRF Grassroots staff and the executive director of one of our local chapters. The results of that call? Well, as I shared on my blog today, I’m now the volunteer Advocacy Team Chair for that local chapter. I thank both you and George for inspiring me to get involved.

  4. Not to rain your happy moment, but Rep. Paulsen’s Republican leadership has proposed cutting NIH funding by roughly $1 billion in FY 2012, the next fiscal year. That comes after a $260 million cut in the current year from the amount provided in FY 2010. Did you ask if he planned to buck his leadership and oppose the cuts? (By comparison, the White House budget or ’12 called for a $1 billion increase.) And … the number is likely to get larger (perhaps much larger) since the Supercommittee has to identify $1.5 trillion in cuts for the next 10 years. It would be interesting to hear Paulsen address this next time you speak with him.

    • No rain, thank you for sharing those points.

      When in there on the behalf of the JDRF, I stick to the script provided. That’s only respectful I think.

      Even with his reputation and history, with us showing up and asking, he can’t say “nobody cares about these issues”. If we don’t show up and voice our concerns, we know what will happen.

      From my (limited) experience with the JDRF Advocacy group, they approach, or try to approach, every single representative regardless of stands and history.

      I also admit that I know about as much about politics as I do about brain surgery. But for me to go and tell my story, I don’t need to know about all of that stuff.

      In fact, it’s the perception that you need to know a lot about politics to participate that keeps many more people from advocating.

  5. What a great post, Scott. I like that: “as just a normal, average, everyday Scott” – what a treat for whoever is on the other side of that conversation engaging it up and hearing your story. They will remember, and that’s huge. Thanks for being involved, my friend, and spreading the word we so need to spread.