Every two years since 1998, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation brings over 150 kids living with type 1 diabetes from across the country to meet with some of the top decision makers in Washington D.C.
Saline’s Royal “Rollie” Caswell, 14, will be one of three Michigan delegates attending the JDRF Children’s Congress, July 13-15.
“I’m proud of this and I’m excited,” said Caswell. “I’m excited to talk to the senators. It should be pretty fun going to D.C.”
These delegates represent each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as six international delegates from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Israel and the Netherlands. They want to convey a message to the federal government that type 1 diabetes is a global problem that requires a global effort.
Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disease that causes the pancreas to stop producing insulin. While it’s a manageable condition, it’s not easy to live with. However, treatment options are consistently improving and a cure doesn’t seem too far away.
While there is some debate in Congress about funding options right now, Caswell is optimistic.
“It’s not going to go away; more people are just going to have it. That’s why these grants are important,” Caswell said. “We’ll be thanking everyone in D.C. and encouraging them to keep funding.”
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 11, Caswell wasn’t the first in his family with this disease. His father had been living with it since 1988 and his brother since 2007. It’s become a Caswell family mission to put an end to it.
The Caswells have been active with JDRF since 2008. They participate in the annual JDRF One Walk, and have been the lead fundraising team since 2009, raising $50,000 the past two years. Caswell is also a founding member of the JDRF Youth Council for the JDRF One Walk in Ann Arbor.
Caswell keeps active by hunting, fishing, and teaching martial arts. He’s earned two black belts. He’s also involved in Model UN and debate at school, and says that public speaking comes naturally to him, so he’s decided that he should advocate more.
“Diabetes doesn’t define me,” Caswell said. “But it’s important that I speak, because they need someone to.”
This is the first time that Caswell attempted to speak at the JDRF Children’s Conference and was selected. Delegates make a video and scrapbook and have participated in projects and writing letters to Congress.
“It’s really cool to be one of the 160 kids,” said Caswell’s mother, Elizabeth. “These kids are really working hard.”
To learn more about type 1 diabetes, JDRF or Children’s Congress, visit www.jdrf.org.
View the original story at Heritage News.