From Abby: Getting in Touch with JDRF.
Abby, like me, grew up with the JDRF as her go-to organization for diabetes. She's recently reconnected with her local chapter, and people recognized her from Twitter. (HA! Abby! I told you you'd love Twitter. ;) ) Here's an update on how she's getting in touch with the JDRF locally.
When I was a kid I was such a big fan of JDRF. I walked on my friend's advocacy walk team even before I was diagnosed. (I was diagnosed with diabetes two months later - that stuff is contagious apparently. And yes, I am kidding.) I went to every dinner, kick-off event, fundraiser; You name it, I was there. I even got to the point where I was speaking at these events. Telling my diabetes story to get people to "understand," and donate money. I loved it.
The JDRF is an amazing organization, they do so much for diabetes, they make kids and families feel like they aren't alone, and that they have support whenever necessary. They have even made huge strides in the Artificial Pancreas Project, which is quite literally the closest thing we've had to a cure in - well - ever.
In short, I love me some JDRF.
Unfortunately for the past eight years or so I hadn't been as involved as I probably should have, or have wanted to be. Once I went away to college, it was hard to keep up with my walk team, and to raise money when people thought I had the kind of diabetes that the press likes to make out to be the patients' fault. I eventually gave up on it, and turned to camp instead.
Since moving to Boston, however, I have realized that I need to get back into helping - and it just so happens that the Bay State Branch of JDRF is starting up a Young Leadership Committee here in Boston. I don't know much about it, but Briley invited me to go to a meeting a few weeks ago with her to check it out. I figured at the very least it would get me out of the house and to meet new people.
After the initial "Hey, are you Abby? Do you work for Kerri? I recognize you from Twitter," silliness, the meeting got started and I was quite impressed. I did feel a little out of the loop since it was my first visit and they were talking about all these other events that had happened that I was completely clueless about. This YLC group is targeting the "lost generation" of people with type 1. Those of us who are 21-35 years old who have had this disease forever and kind of get forgotten about since we're past the cute kid stage. So far, they are planning on doing a holiday meet-and-greet type of event in Boston, so we can get to know each other better and have a more solid support system here in the Boston area. I absolutely loved this idea. There was also talk of a Marathon Monday fundraising event at a bar on the route. Again, such a great idea.
I guess what I took away from this meeting is that even though I was definitely an outsider in this group, there are people who acknowledge this population of PWD who have been lost in the shuffle, yet have a lot to contribute. We have friends and contacts and interests that are much different than the child demographic, and tapping into this resource could generate a lot of support of JDRF. I'll definitely be keeping up with this group, and hopefully getting back into JDRF as much as I can.
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Not everyone has to support the same diabetes advocacy organizations or even the same goals. Our strength is not what divides us; it's in what unites us. What are your favorite ways to advocate for diabetes?