Pam Howland is an Advocacy Team Chair (ATC) for JDRF’s Idaho Branch, part of the Utah Chapter / Mountain-Pacific Region, based in Boise, Idaho. Her T1D connection is through her nine-year-old daughter, Kennedy, who was diagnosed four years ago as a kindergartner. Pam originally got involved with JDRF through her close friend and colleague whose son also has T1D, and the families participated on a JDRF Walk team together.
As a part of the Idaho Branch / Utah Chapter, Pam has helped to create a local Leadership Council on T1D. Pam and Kennedy became involved with JDRF Advocacy, specifically, after they were encouraged by a former ATC to participate in local meetings through JDRF “Promise to Remember Me” Campaign, which fosters communication and relationship-building between T1D families and their national legislators, back home in Congressional District offices. Pam says her advice for people looking to get involved with advocacy is just to “give it a try, jump in,” since there are many ways to get involved—whether you tell your personal diabetes story directly to lawmakers or send a couple emails a year urging renewal of the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), there is always a place for participation.
JDRF Walks are some of Pam’s most favorite events to engage in, as these events generate so many new advocates by getting people excited about working towards creating a world without T1D. However, her favorite event thus far was the more recent ‘Diabetes Awareness Day’ held at the capital in Boise, a hugely supportive event originally proposed by a former JDRF 2013 Children’s Congress Delegate from Idaho. Many well-known supporters attended, including Miss Idaho, a T1D herself, who proudly wears her insulin pump while doing pageants. The great support of the local community and the Governor is inspiring to all, and Pam hopes this becomes an annual event. She also supposes that this Awareness Day is her proudest moment with JDRF so far! For this ATC, the “great, diverse leadership” of Idaho and the local community pulling together in support of a cause is a wonderful accomplishment.
Pam says that the most rewarding thing about being involved with JDRF is playing a role in finding a cure for T1D and doing anything she can to reach this goal. However, being an ATC comes with its challenges—Pam describes her most difficult challenge is often gaining an audience in front of U.S. Congresspersons, noting that it can be “difficult to gain support!” To that end, she looks forward to returning to Washington, D.C., this July, when Kennedy will proudly represent Idaho as a JDRF 2015 Children’s Congress Delegate!
Challenges aside, Pam describes her ATC experience as surprisingly fulfilling; she agreed to take the role because of her daughter, although she says she “has gotten so much more out of this position than I expected.” Though she partnered with JDRF out of necessity, she has found huge benefits in the form of great friends, learning opportunities on T1D, and being one step closer to a cure.
Pam’s six-word memoir on her JDRF advocacy experience: “It’s fun, it’s empowering, and transformational.”