Randall Barker, the Advocacy Team Chair (ATC) of the West Texas Plains region and a member of the Greater Arlington and Fort Worth Chapter, knew a bit about JDRF as someone living with type 1 diabetes (T1D), but was not involved much in the way of advocacy following his diagnosis over 26 years ago.
When he was diagnosed with T1D, Randall viewed it as a curse. However, when his daughter Emma was diagnosed in 2013 and his family received a ‘Bag of Hope’ from the nearest JDRF chapter, his curse suddenly became his blessing and changed his thinking, leading him to get involved with JDRF Advocacy.
Melinda Rose, whom at the time was the Grassroots Leadership Team (GLT) member for the Lone Star Region, approached him following Emma’s diagnosis, which gave him an opportunity to share his story while listening to the journeys of others. Through this interaction, he and Emma were also given an opportunity to attend a Promise to Remember Me campaign meeting in their congressional district, which he says was one of his proudest moments during his time with JDRF Advocacy. It was through these experiences that he realized the power and importance of advocacy and the meaningful connections that stem from this robust community.
Randall’s favorite JDRF Advocacy event used to be Government Day, but since attending the JDRF 2017 Children’s Congress, he says this was his favorite event. He was able to meet with congressional leaders and their staff, and was able to interact with children and parents from across the country. Randall was inspired by the testimonies presented at the Senate hearing, and going with his daughter made the experience even more meaningful. He says the connections formed through the common goal of the want and need for a T1D cure at these events helps build a sense of community and belonging.
Randall places an emphasis on this type of connection in his role as an ATC, as it encourages people to get involved with JDRF Advocacy on a deeper level, all while building a community that understands what you go through on a daily basis. He says the most rewarding aspect of being part of JDRF Advocacy is seeing all the advanced research and fundraising to turn ‘Type One into Type None.’
Randall’s biggest challenge while advocating for JDRF is helping those with type 2 diabetes to understand that a lot of the research being done for T1D affects both populations, and that their advocacy can do a lot once they overcome this roadblock. He says that while the goal is to cure T1D, this goal also encompasses all of the diabetes community.
Randall describes his experiences with JDRF Advocacy in six words by saying, “Advocacy, personally for me, builds awareness.”
Thank you, Randall, for all of your time, commitment, and positive energy as an advocacy volunteer!