Charlie Albair, 10-Year-Old Gray Native with T1D, Testifies Before Senator Collins’ Committee on Importance of Finding a Cure for Diabetes

This is the 9th Time Senator Collins Has Chaired the JDRF Children’s Congress to Assess the Progress Toward a Cure for This Devastating Disease

 

Washington, D.C. - “I want my disease to go away – for me and all the other kids who suffer from it. I want us all to be able to live without thinking about it. That’s why I am here,” said 10-year-old Gray native Charlie Albair at a hearing chaired by U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) this morning.

Senator Collins, the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee and founder of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, invited Charlie to testify at the JDRF Children’s Congress, a biennial event to raise awareness about Type 1 diabetes (T1D). Brady Chappell of Naples also attended the hearing as one of the 160 Children’s Congress delegates, who are selected from nearly 1,300 entries in a national competition on the basis of a letter that they wrote stating why a cure for T1D is important to them. This is the 9th time Senator Collins has chaired the Children’s Congress.

“I want to give a special welcome to the two delegates from Maine, Charlie Albair of Gray and Brady Chappell of Naples. I am proud that you are here representing our great State of Maine,” Senator Collins said. “I appreciate that you have shared your personal stories and told us what it’s like to live with diabetes, just how serious it is, and why it is so important that Congress fund the research necessary to discover better treatments and, ultimately, a cure.”

“Since I started the Senate Diabetes Caucus, funding for diabetes research has more than tripled from $319 million in 1997 to more than a billion dollars this year,” Senator Collins continued. “As a result, we have seen encouraging developments in the management, treatment, and potential cures for Type 1 diabetes. With continuation of this investment, we can see a future in which the children here today can look forward to a better and brighter tomorrow.”

Charlie described how some of these advancements have made managing his diabetes easier.

“In the beginning, we treated my diabetes with syringes. And a half a year later, I got the Omnipod pump and then a [continuous glucose monitor] to monitor my sugar levels,” Charlie explained. “When I first found out I had diabetes, I remember thinking that this would change my whole life. I thought that I wouldn’t realize my dream of being a sports star. Now I can realize I can do whatever I want.”

Charlie urged Senators to continue to support diabetes research, promising that “if you do, I will invite you to a game when I am on the Red Sox.”

More than 30 million Americans – 9.4 percent of the population – suffer from diabetes. About five percent of all diabetes cases are Type 1. T1D, sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes, usually starts in childhood or adolescence and renders individuals insulin-dependent for life. Individuals with T1D must be injected daily with insulin (often multiple times) - or receive routine infusions of insulin to survive.

As the founder and co-chair of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, Senator Collins has championed investments in biomedical research that led to breakthroughs in diabetes research and for policies to alleviate the difficulties and heartbreak diabetes causes for so many American families as they await a cure.

Under Senator Collins’ leadership, funding for diabetes research has more than tripled. Moreover, earlier this year, Medicare adopted a policy Senator Collins long pushed for to provide coverage for an effective, lifesaving device – the continuous glucose monitor (CGM) – that is helping millions of Americans with diabetes who rely on the CGM to successfully manage the disease. Last year, the FDA approved an artificial pancreas system that will automatically control blood glucose levels. Senator Collins first held a hearing on the promise of the artificial pancreas to revolutionize diabetes care in September 2006.

Today's hearing focused on the impact of T1D at all ages and stages of the disease, looking at recent advances and in research, particularly as it relates to the artificial pancreas systems. It also highlighted the importance of the Special Diabetes Program and the need to renew the program to continue momentum in Type 1 research for new treatments, therapies, and ultimately a cure.

Witnesses for this hearing included:

  • Paul Sparks, Actor, New York, NY
  • Griffin Rodgers, M.D., M.A.C.P., Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland
  • Charlie Albair, Age 10, Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 6, Gray, Maine
  • Lorynn Watt, Age 17, Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 9, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
  • Angie Platt, Chair Mom of the JDRF 2017 Children’s Congress, accompanied by her son Jonathan Platt, Age 14, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 6, Encino, California

Click HERE to read their testimonies.