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.
Monday 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.