Majority Press

Teenager from Poland Spring, Maine Testifies before Senate Committee

Senator Collins holds hearing to examine the impact of type 1diabetes on individuals and their families


WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Ranking Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, along with the committee Chairman, Senator Bill Nelson, held a hearing today that examined the impact of type 1 diabetes on individuals of all ages, recent medical advances, and federal funding for research.

The hearing coincided with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's (JDRF) "Children's Congress," in which delegates from around the country travel to Washington, D.C. and meet with lawmakers.  This is seventh consecutive Children’s Congress hearing that Senator Collins has held.

The hearing room today was overflowing with hundreds of delegates, their families, other diabetes advocates, and members of the general public.  The room was so full, in fact, that the Chairman and Ranking Member of the committee invited family members of the delegates to sit at and behind the dais with the members of the committee.

The Senate panel heard from Quinn Ferguson, a 14-year-old from Poland Spring, Maine, who is living with type 1 diabetes and is a Children’s Congress delegate.  Quinn just graduated from Bruce Whittier Middle School and is an active athlete who plays football and competed on the school’s track team. Prior to the hearing, Quinn presented Senator Collins with a scrapbook detailing his five-year struggle with diabetes.

In addition, three-time Emmy-winning actress Jean Smart of "Designing Women" fame and former Boston Celtics and now Miami Heat guard Ray Allen, a two-time NBA champion, testified before the committee.  Allen was joined by his six year-old son, Walker, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was just 17 months old.  Smart, a long-time diabetes research and education advocate, has lived with the disease since age 13.     

The committee also heard from Dr. Griffin Rodgers, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; and, Jeffrey Brewer, CEO of the JDRF.

“Voices have been silenced and lives cut short because of this disease.  I am here today to speak for them as well as myself,” Quinn Ferguson said in his testimony before 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.  I am here today because they could not be, and because we need to do more about this disease.”

Senator Collins said, “What motivates me to devote so much energy to this cause is meeting the children and families whose lives have been forever changed by diabetes.  That is why it is so important that you traveled here to Washington to tell your stories.  You put a human face on the statistics.”

One focus of the hearing was the Special Diabetes Program, which was created in 1997 and has been responsible for significant progress in diabetes treatment and prevention by granting funding to diabetes researchers through the National Institutes of Health and Indian Health Services.  As part of a broader bill to avert the fiscal cliff earlier this year, Senator Collins helped pass legislation to extend the Special Diabetes Program – which provides $150 million a year over and above the regular appropriation for type 1 diabetes research – for an additional year through September of 2014.  The program is set to expire after September 2014 unless Congress acts. 

Statistics:

• As many as three million Americans may have T1D.

• Each year, more than 15,000 children and 15,000 adults—approximately 80 people per day—are diagnosed with T1D in the U.S.

• Approximately 85 percent of people living with T1D are adults, and 15 percent of people living with T1D are children.

• The prevalence of T1D in Americans under age 20 rose by 23 percent between 2001 and 2009.

• The rate of T1D incidence among children under age 14 is estimated to increase by three percent annually worldwide.

• T1D accounts for $14.9 billion in healthcare costs in the U.S. each year.

*See more diabetes facts about Type 1 diabetes from the JDRF by clicking here.