Cameron doesn’t need much in the way of an introduction, so without further ado, meet Cameron!
Hi. My name is Cameron Crouse, I am a thirteen years years old and I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I was diagnosed with type one diabetes (T1D) a month before my third birthday. After my diagnosis in May of 2003, our family did our first JDRF Walk for a Cure. At that Walk, a woman in an Uncle Sam hat asked my mom to sign-up to be a JDRF Advocate. My mother became a JDRF Advocate, and in the Spring of 2004, we got a call asking us if we would like to meet U.S. Senator Richard Shelby to thank him for his support, as part of JDRF’s Promise to Remember Me Campaign.
A Promise to Remember Me meeting is when you talk with your elected official(s) about how living with diabetes has impacted your life. You also have the opportunity to persuade your Senators or Representative to support critical federal funding and research for different technologies. At most meetings, there are people of all ages whose lives are touched by T1D. My first Promise meeting was with Senator Shelby, and I was almost four years old at the time. I still have the picture of me standing with Senator Shelby behind his desk. Since that time, I have attended A LOT of Promise meetings. Since my mom helps coordinate Promise Meetings here locally in Alabama, I have met with the Alabama Senators and almost all of the delegation’s Representatives many times.
Attending so many Promise meetings has given me the wonderful opportunity to meet with many different people: the families and other people like me who live with T1D, the Congressional staffers and of course the elected officials themselves. Participating in a Promise meeting is a way to share our stories and let our elected officials know that we care about diabetes research funding. It is also a wonderful opportunity to THANK our Representatives and Senators for supporting JDRF’s mission to cure, treat and prevent T1D.
I feel pretty confident today that Members of the Alabama delegation really do remember me when they are being asked to support diabetes research funding. When I was six, I was visiting my grandparents up in Baltimore and I was asked to meet again with Senator Shelby, this time in Washington, D.C. It was an awesome experience to get to go to the U.S. Capitol and speak with Senator Shelby’s office about why research was so important to me.
As I grew older, I knew that applying for and attending JDRF’s Children’s Congress (CC) was something I really wanted to do. JDRF’s Children’s Congress is an opportunity for type one diabetics from all over the U.S., and across the world, to come to D.C. and share their stories of living with TID – all to help secure much-needed research funding. While at this bi-annual event, the C.C. delegates attend a Town Hall with celebrity panelists, attend a U.S. Senate hearing, and meet with their Senators and Representatives.
Since this year marked my tenth year of living with TID, I thought it would be a good time to apply. As I mentioned earlier, I had attended a lot of Promise meetings and worked with my mom on Advocacy ‘action alerts,’ so I knew how important JDRF’s 2013 Children’s Congress would be to securing the renewal of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP). My mom really thought it was important for Children’s Congress to be MY thing, and she really encouraged me to apply as she felt like I was old enough to do so independently. I submitted my essay and questionnaire to the Advocacy team, and was really so happy when I learned I had been selected. It was also really cool because I knew the other Alabama delegate selected, Caleb, from a Promise meeting we had done together a few years ago. First, I made my delegate video and put together my scrapbook. It was really neat to include pictures from over the years of fundraising at local Walks and Galas, but also from all of the Promise meetings I had attended over the years.[View:http://typeonenation.org/cfs-file.ashx/__key/communityserver-blogs-components-weblogfiles/00-00-01-22-48/2055.IMG_5F00_1110.MOV]
The best part of Children’s Congress was meeting all of the new people, delegates. and T1D celebrities alike. I loved Children’s Congress, and it was so great to see so many kids and parents who were pretty much new to Advocacy understand just how important sharing your story and being a JDRF Advocate is to our mission. Although meeting all of these new people was such fun, and the Promise Campaign meetings are a blast, the best thing I take away from being a JDRF Advocate are the personal relationships I have developed over the years. I have known Representative Spencer Bachus for so long that we treat each other as old friends. We joke about our football teams, and he even has given me a fish. A FISH! We named him Spencer and his staff checks in on it every once in awhile. I am pretty confident that when Congressman Bachus hears the word diabetes, he thinks of me.
Another instance is IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball. The first time I met him, we were at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, during a JDRF event. Charlie’s has T1D just like me, only, you know, he drives race cars for a living. After he showed us his car, and explained how everything worked, including the different gadgets used to monitor his blood sugar levels, we met and shook hands. We exchanged some words, ate lunch, he signed some autographs, and then we headed home. Little did I know that a little over a year later, I would be asking him a question about the technology in his car for all to hear at the 2013 Children’s Congress Town Hall for all to hear. Crazy, right?
But wait, there’s another instance! When attending the 2011 Gala, I was presented with the opportunity to go onstage and sing with….none other than American Idol runner-up Crystal Bowersox, who also has T1D. We met afterwards, exchanged some words, she signed my name tag, and finally, she said, “Ya know what? You look exactly like this guy that went to my high school.” And what do you know, two years later at CC when I walk into the room to have my picture taken with Crystal Bowersox and Olympic gold medalist Gary Hall the first thing she says to me is… “You know what? You look JUST like this guy I went to high school with!” My response? “That’s EXACTLY what you said to me two years ago at the Alabama Gala!” Totally insane. And still, even after meeting these people, the best part about them is that they are famous for doing what they’re doing WITH DIABETES. It doesn’t slow them down or stop them from doing what they love. I have learned so much from these people.
These reasons, and so many more, are the reasons that I am ALL-IN with JDRF Advocacy, and I will be till the day diabetes is cured. Being a JDRF Advocate is part of who I am. I know how important talking to our elected officials about living with T1D is to securing more funding for research to cure, treat, and prevent diabetes. It is because I am a JDRF Advocate that I am a better fundraiser, because I know how important Advocacy and fundraising both are for a cure. I love being able to share my experience of being a JDRF Children’s Congress delegate with other kids that I meet. I definitely encourage them to get involved NOW by attending a Promise Meeting.
I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this and would hope that you, too, realize that with your help, we could be that much closer to a cure.