Jun 15, 2011 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Local high school Junior Kristine “Krissy” Boyle, 16, of Marietta, will travel to Washington, D.C. next week as a state delegate to the upcoming national diabetes conference on Capitol Hill. Boyle, along with 149 other children from around the country, will talk to lawmakers from both houses of Congress about the challenges of living with Type 1 diabetes.
The effort is part of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Children’s Congress 2011, a biennial event designed to remind Congress of the “critical need” to find better treatments and a cure for the disease.
Boyle, who was named a delegate through JDRF’s Central New York Chapter in Liverpool, was diagnosed with Type 1 (also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile) diabetes in 2003 at age 8. Since then, “Everything I do requires that extra 90 minutes to make sure my diabetes is under control.” Krissy said.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. It strikes people at any age and comes on suddenly.
According to the JDRF, as many as three million Americans may have Type 1 diabetes, and more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults are newly diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
Krissy has lived with diabetes for seven years, counting carbohydrates, pricking her finger to check her blood sugar level, self-administering insulin and coping with the symptoms of high and low blood sugars. But even with the struggles of the disease, “I haven’t stopped with anything I try to achieve,” she said.
She is a student at Marcellus Senior High School, where she is a high honor roll student, captain of the varsity cheerleading team, defender on the varsity lacrosse team and a member of the chorus. When not in school she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, photography, swimming, music and other typical teenage interests. “I live a normal life that just happens to include balancing diabetes,” she said.
But even with all these achievements and ambitions, Krissy has struggled with her ailment. A few years ago she grew tired of the diabetic regimen. She stopped testing her blood sugar regularly, didn’t manage her insulin levels and started to experience negative consequences that showed her she “had to stop letting diabetes control [her].” Now she uses her newfound confidence and disease management to support and educate newly diagnosed children.
Every summer for many years she and her family has volunteered for the JDRF Walk, which helps raise awareness of and funding for diabetes research. Krissy’s classmates and cheerleading team also have held JDRF fundraisers. And now she is a Children’s Congress delegate.
“I feel excited because it’s a chance to show others how strong diabetes has made me and how to never give up on living out your dreams no matter what disease stands in your way,” she said.
Krissy applied for the JDRF Children’s Congress last October by submitting an essay about her life with diabetes. She was one of more than 1,200 applicants. From those 1,200 applicants, only 150 children, ages 4 to 17, from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, were selected to be national delegates.
Krissy is one of only nine delegates from New York State.
She will travel with her parents and sister to Washington on Sunday, June 19, and attend to her delegate duties June 20 to 22. She will speak with her local Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25), and be part of a group to meet with the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, chaired by Sen. Joe Lieberman of Conn. There also is a possibility she will meet with New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Krissy said she will describe for lawmakers how difficult life can be with diabetes, inform them of new progress in diabetes research, and leave them with the message of “Promise to Remember Me” the song the delegates will sing as a group while in Washington.
In addition to her personal lobbying of House and Senate members, Krissy also will attend a Senate hearing on Type 1 diabetes research funding, at which JDRF’s International Chair, Mary Tyler Moore, will testify.
A profile of Krissy, including a video of her personal testimony, is posted on the JDRF website, cc.jdrf.org.
The JDRF is a worldwide organization that advocates and charitably funds diabetes research across the globe. The Children’s Congress, which began in 1999, has become the largest media and grassroots advocacy event of its kind.
The Press will talk with Krissy again after she returns from Washington to hear of her experiences at the Children’s Congress stay tuned!
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.