Breakthrough T1D Children’s Congress Experience Day 1 – Oliver Shane 7/24/23

Hello, welcome back to the Poetic Diabetic! As I write this, I’ve just returned from an unforgettable experience. From July 10th to July 12th, 2023, 163 teens and children with diabetes gathered in Washington D.C. for the 2023 Children’s Congress. Together, we lobbied for affordable insulin and increased renewal of funding for the Special Diabetes Program (SDP). I feel immensely grateful to have represented South Florida in this important event. In this blog post, and the ones to follow, I’ll be sharing everything about the convention, from the hearing led by Senator Collins to our meetings with Florida’s senators.

The start of our trip was marked by a tumultuous relationship with our airline. We had initially booked a 9:00 AM flight on Saturday, which would have brought us to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) around noon. However, at 6:00 AM on the day of the flight, the airline informed us that it was canceled due to weather concerns. Although it was frustrating, we managed to book another flight a few hours later, aiming to arrive at the gate by 2:00 PM. Unfortunately, that flight was also canceled. Finally, we booked a third flight, which surprisingly wasn’t canceled but got delayed until 6:00 PM. Consequently, we missed the initial meet & greet and introductory banquet. Nonetheless, we were grateful for a good night’s sleep, providing some respite after a chaotic day.

The next morning, we received stylish tote bags containing the itinerary, shirts required for the delegates, and our very own Rufus the Bear. While I might have felt a bit too old for plushies, I couldn’t deny that owning the world’s first diabetic bear was a neat bonus! Fully equipped with our shirts and itineraries, we headed down to the main hall for breakfast.

Arriving a little late, most of the food, including the supposedly delicious bacon, had already been devoured. Nevertheless, I managed to grab some eggs and a few pastries to satisfy my hunger. What struck me immediately was the sheer number of delegates present. One hundred and sixty-three may not sound like a lot on paper, but the delegates and their parents filled up at least thirty tables. During that meal, I made it my goal to meet as many of the other delegates as possible.

Within an hour, I had the opportunity to meet almost a dozen diabetic teens from various states, including New York, California, and even Alaska. Surprisingly, I even ran into someone I had attended camp with a year ago. It was a fascinating experience to connect with so many teens who shared the same illness. We all dealt with diabetes in similar yet unique ways. For instance, more than half of the delegates I met used the t:slim X2, while only one kid used a Medtronic pump. Interestingly, the Dexcom G7, my current CGM, was a hot topic among the delegates. If I had known how excited everyone would be about it, I would have placed it in a more visible spot!

Next, all the junior delegates gathered outside for a group photo, which miraculously took only twenty or thirty minutes. It was intriguing to see how many parents positioned themselves on the second or even fifth-floor balconies to capture the best angle, as if engaging in a friendly competition.

After the photo session, we were introduced to nine incredibly successful celebrities, role models who had triumphed over diabetes and were there to share their knowledge and experiences. This group even included America Ninja Warrior’s Katie Bone! However, I’ll have to save the details about them for the next blog post, as there is much to be said about the invaluable insights they provided. Thank you for reading! If you found this blog post interesting, please stay tuned, as there is much more to come.

Until next time,
From one diabetic to another!