WASHINGTON, D.C. — A teenager from Poland, Maine, told a U.S. Senate committee Wednesday what it’s like to grow up with Type 1 diabetes.
Quinn Ferguson, 14, who has Type 1 diabetes, shared his story at a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging designed to explore the impact of Type 1 diabetes on patients, recent medical advances and federal funding for research, according to a release from the office of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the ranking Republican member of the committee.
Ferguson is a delegate to the “Children’s Congress,” in which delegates from around the country meet yearly with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., according to the release.
Ferguson recently graduated from Bruce Whittier Middle School. He plays football and competed on the school’s track team. Prior to the hearing, he gave Collins a scrapbook detailing his life experiences since he was diagnosed with diabetes five years ago.
“Voices have been silenced and lives cut short because of this disease. I am here today to speak for them as well as myself,” Ferguson told the committee. “And I am not alone in my story. People are misdiagnosed every day or not diagnosed at all, suffering the consequences and sometimes paying the ultimate price.”
Noting that an average of 80 people per day in the United States are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, Collins praised Ferguson for “putting a human face on the statistics.”
Others who testified at Wednesday’s hearing were Griffin Rodgers, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; Jeffrey Brewer, chief executive officer of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; actress Jean Smart; and former Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen, whose 6-year-old son was diagnosed with diabetes and is a Children’s Congress delegate.
The hearing, which coincides with the annual gathering of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s “Children’s Congress,” comes six months after Congress approved a one-year, $150 million extension of the Special Diabetes Program Congress as part of a broader bill to avert the fiscal cliff, according to the release. The program, which accounts for 35 percent of all federal funding for Type 1 diabetes research, is set to expire in September 2014 unless Congress extends its funding.