A Call to Congress; A Participants Perspective

A ten- year old boy met his congressman at the government office building in Washington, D.C.  The little boy said to his congressman, “I’m looking for someone who can help take this away.  Will YOU be my hero?”  The congressman looked down and saw that the little boy was holding a syringe.

This was a true story that I was a part of in 2007 when I, along with this 10- year old boy and hundreds of others, participated in the Call to Congress sponsored by the American Diabetes Association.

Every two years, the ADA puts out a call for interested people to apply to go to Washington, D.C. to lobby for diabetes.  I read about this opportunity in the ADA magazine Diabetes Focus.  I filled out the application and was selected to attend.

Here are some of the things I loved about participating in the Call to Congress.

  1. I got to meet my congressmen/women in their offices and discuss something that is very important to me and helps keep diabetes issues on their radar screens.
  2. I learned from the ADA how to talk to my congressmen/women  to make the most of their time and the most of my efforts.
  3. I learned a lot about diabetes research and funding and came home with the knowledge of how to continue lobbying at home and the confidence to do so.
  4. I met people from all over the United States.  I had breakfast with a man who was going to meet with his congressman, Ted Kennedy, that afternoon.
  5. I got to know people from my state as we lobbied as a group.  In my group there was a child with diabetes, a mother, a nurse practitioner, a diabetes nurse educator, a granddaughter of a man who had diabetes (she went on to be crowned Miss Iowa a year later) and me (diabetic for 20 years).
  6. I had time to see some of Washington and the capital

The ADA paid for some of my expenses but the out of pocket cost to go was still over $1,000.  I spent a month before I went to Washington D.C. asking groups and individuals to help sponsor my trip.  I carried around a big waste paper basket that had two lines on it.  The line at the bottom was the tuna sandwich trip and the top line was the t-bone steak trip.  I had a lot of fun asking for funds!  I asked people to help give toward my trip to help me fight for diabetes funding and a cure.   I raised $800.00.  I found that everyone was affected by diabetes; either themselves, someone in their family or a friend.  People were excited to help send someone they knew to lobby congress for diabetes funding!

Would I go again?  In a finger prick!

Catherine Van Hove

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