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West Hartford Resident Will Represent State at JDRF 2015 Children’s Congress

Robert Marshall Barnes, 17 of West Hartford, will represent the state at the 2015 JDRF Children's Congress. Submitted photo

Teens from West Hartford and Branford have been selected from a pool of more than 1,500 applicants with type 1 diabetes to represent Connecticut at JDRF 2015 Children’s Congress.

Robert Marshall Barnes, 17 of West Hartford, will represent the state at the 2015 JDRF Children's Congress. Submitted photo

Robert Marshall Barnes, 17 of West Hartford, will represent the state at the 2015 JDRF Children’s Congress. Submitted photo


JDRF’s Greater CT/Western MA chapter will be sending a unique delegation to Washington, D.C. this summer. Claire Bickel, 13 of Branford and Robert Marshall Barnes, 17 of West Hartford have been selected by JDRF to join nearly 160 other children from around the country to remind their members of Congress of the vital need to continue supporting research that aims to reduce the burden they all share of living with type 1 diabetes (T1D), until a cure becomes available.

These children – ages 4 to 17, and representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia – will visit the nation’s capital as delegates to JDRF 2015 Children’s Congress, to be held July 13-15.

Joining them will be six international delegates traveling from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Israel, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. These international delegates will partner with U.S. delegates to convey a clear message to the federal government that T1D is a global problem that requires a global effort.

The event, which is held every other summer, will include congressional visits by the delegates and a congressional committee hearing, during which selected delegates and T1D celebrity advocates will testify on the need for continued funding for T1D research. These visits serve as a powerful call to our elected lawmakers to remember the struggle of all those living with the disease, and the importance of supporting and funding T1D research.

“These outstanding children and their families all understand, as I do as a father of a loved one with type 1 diabetes, that T1D tests us every day,” says Derek Rapp, JDRF President and CEO. “Children’s Congress gives all of us one voice to urge Congress to maintain its commitment to supporting research, which is essential to reducing the burden of this disease on us and on our country.”

Claire Bickel, 13 of Branford. Submitted photo

Claire Bickel, 13 of Branford. Submitted photo

When asked why she wanted to participate in Children’s Congress, Claire said “To educate the world about type 1 diabetes”. Her mother Francesca Bickel added “The diabetes community both in person and online has provided such support and comfort to Claire and me. It just feels right to participate in giving that community a voice.”

Marshall added “I am excited to have the opportunity to represent kids like me, who deal with this chronic illness every day. I dream of a day when I can drive a car, have a job and a family and not constantly worry about my blood sugar. I look forward to visiting Connecticut’s congressmen and advocating for research and funding a cure.”

Serving as chair for JDRF 2015 Children’s Congress will be Kimberly Roosevelt of Dallas, Texas, who attended JDRF 2009 Children’s Congress with her delegate daughter Elizabeth, now 13. As chair of the event, Kim will help engage, support, and energize all these delegates and their families during the advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill.

For a video of highlights from JDRF 2013 Children’s Congress, please click here.

About JDRF Children’s Congress

The JDRF Children’s Congress program was inspired by then-eight-year-old Tommy Solo from Massachusetts in 1999. He overheard adult JDRF volunteers talking about going to Washington, D.C. to talk to Congress, and thought it would be great if children could go, too, because their voices also needed to be heard. JDRF Children’s Congress inspires lawmakers to remember the children who live with T1D when making decisions about medical research funding and voting on other important federal government issues relating to diabetes. The young delegates’ personal stories, told in their own words, are often more powerful than almost any other type of education a legislator might receive.

Tommy’s idea quickly became a well-developed event, first held in 1999. Since then, nine successful JDRF Children’s Congresses have been held, growing in scope each time, every other year (1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015).

Today, JDRF Children’s Congress brings more than 150 children with T1D, who attend with one parent or guardian, to Washington, D.C. JDRF Children’s Congress participants represent all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and several countries around the world. They come together as advocates to meet on Capitol Hill with members of Congress and other key federal policymakers to help educate them about the critical need for federal funding for T1D research.

To learn more about JDRF Children’s Congress, please visit our website at http://cc.jdrf.org/.

About JDRF

JDRF is the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF’s goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until we achieve a world without T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, policy influence and a working plan to bring life-changing therapies from the lab to the community. As the largest charitable supporter of T1D research, JDRF has invested nearly $2B in research over the past 45 years and is sponsoring scientific research in 17 countries worldwide. For more information, please visit www.jdrf.org.

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