Photo of Miranda Speirs courtesy of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Local 12-year-old Miranda Speirs will be representing California in Washington D.C. at the end of the month in a delegation of children for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s 2017 Children’s Congress.
On Monday, July 24th, the junior delegates and a host of celebrity advocates will participate in a two-day stint at Capitol Hill to lobby the Members of Congress for continued support of Type 1 Diabetes research in the hopes of reducing the burden of the disease and ultimately finding a cure, according to a press release.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), a global organization funding Type 1 Diabetes research, chooses more than 150 children with Type 1 Diabetes to travel to Washington D.C. every two years to meet members of congress and talk to them about what it’s like to live with their diagnosis. With delegates from all 50 states, Speirs is one of 14 kids from California chosen to represent the state.
As a delegate, Speirs and her fellow Children’s Congress members will take D.C. by storm and advocate for the renewal of the Special Diabetes Program. That government program, which provides $150 million annually to Type 1 Diabetes research, was renewed as a component in a larger bill in 2015 and scheduled to expire in September 2017. A bill to renew the program was introduced to the Senate in late March but as of this moment, no officials have cast their votes.
There are 1.2 million Americans currently living with Type 1 Diabetes, and an estimated 40,000 people will be newly diagnosed each year, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Speirs hopes the trip to Congress will help persuade the officials vote for the program's renewal by showing them, first hand, what it’s like to have Type 1 Diabetes and convince the government that people with this diagnosis need their support.
When Speirs was diagnosed in 2008 at 3 years old, her family created a “Team Miranda” walk-a-thon team in 2009 for JDRF’s One Walk event to raise money for Type 1 Diabetes research. Since then, Speirs has become an ambassador for the JDRF and has participated in eight walking events with the members of “Team Miranda”. Throughout the years, her walking team has raised about $40,000 to fund Type 1 Diabetes research, Miranda’s mother Maura Hudson told the Post.
As an independent and personable child who has almost always lived with a debilitating disease, according to Hudson, Speirs has grown into a girl who is passionate about being a voice of advocacy for her diagnosis and increasing awareness for people with the same disease.
“She doesn’t want anyone else to speak up for her, she wants to speak for herself,” Hudson said in regards to her daughter’s advocacy and disease. “It’s hard enough being a twelve-year-old girl beginning middle school then she deals with all of this on top of it. She’s my hero.”