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HomeFeaturesHealthHaddam's Logan Merwin Attends JDRF Kids Congress in Washington, D.C.

Haddam’s Logan Merwin Attends JDRF Kids Congress in Washington, D.C.

By Kathy Brown.

What did you do for your summer vacation? Well, for Logan Merwin, age 12, he and his mother traveled to Washington, D.C. so that Logan could be a Delegate to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s (JDRF’s) Children’s Congress at the beginning of July. Logan, who will be starting seventh grade next month at Haddam Killingworth Intermediate School, was chosen as one of two delegates from Connecticut, to attend this year’s Children’s Congress.

Logan had to fill out a detailed application as well as a letter to JDRF explaining why he should be chosen, as well as what he has already done to advocate and educate around Type 1 diabetes. “I wanted to have my story heard,” said Logan. “I want more funding for research for advancements in technology and to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.” Logan’s mother Samantha echoed that, and said, “We will educate and fight as often as we can until that message gets across.”

Jon Muskrat, Executive Director, Greater Connecticut/Western Mass Chapter, JDRF, said that they chose delegates “based on their leadership, creativity and passion for advocacy.” Their chapter sent four of the 160 delegates, age 4-17, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, UK, Israel, Australia, and the Netherlands.

The three-day Congress held in Washington D.C. contained several events:
  • Hill Blitz:  U.S. delegates meet with members of Congress from their hometowns, sharing personal stories and promoting JDRF’s call for SDP funding [Special Diabetes Project provides $150 million annually for Type 1 diabetes research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)]
  • FDA Meeting:  JDRF leadership and delegates share personal experiences with clinical trials and need for next generation T1D treatments
  • Senate Hearing:  JDRF leadership, delegates and celebrity attendees will testify for the need for SPD funding
  • Town Hall Event:  Delegates pose questions to and interact with Celebrity Role Models

    Logan with Ryan Reed
One of Logan’s favorite parts of the event, was meeting Ryan Reed, a NASCAR driver who has Type 1 diabetes. “Ryan is my favorite role model because I have wanted to meet him for years and it inspires me how he was able to get into NASCAR despite his Type 1.” Logan’s mother agreed, “I loved talking to Ryan as well. He’s an amazing role model for these kids on how to do something that no one thought he would be able to do.” Ryan Reed was diagnosed at age 17, and told to quit racing. According to this article, instead Ryan put together a medical team, and figured out how to race despite his Type 1 diabetes. From the role models, Logan learned “that Type 1 can’t stop you from doing anything you want to do.”
Other celebrities at the event:
  • April Blackwell, NASA ADCO Flight Controller, Aerospace Engineer, writer, blogger (diagnosed at age 11)
  • Lauren Cox, Baylor University Women’s Basketball Player and 2019 NCAA Champion (diagnosed at age 7)
  • Victor Garber, Emmy- and Tony-nominated actor (diagnosed at age 12)
  • Christina Martin, Professional dancer, motivational speaker, and American Ninja Warrior (diagnosed at age 13)
  • Adam Schefter, Sports broadcaster and NFL Analyst for ESPN (wife diagnosed as an adult)
  • Isaiah Stanback, Fitness expert, motivational speaker, and NFL Superbowl Champion (daughter diagnosed at age 3)
  • Jennifer Stone, Actress (diagnosed at age 20)
  • Derek Theler, Actor (diagnosed at age 3)
  • Mitch Tulackha, Monster Truck owner and designer (diagnosed at age 23)
  • Fiona Wylde, Professional stand-up paddler and windsurfer (diagnosed at age 18)
Logan was able to meet with Blumenthal, Murphy, and Courtney while he was in Washington, D.C. “I talked to the CT representatives about the Special Diabetes Project and why it’s important to me and my family,” said Logan. “I also talked about insulin pricing and why it should be lowered. We discussed how the NIH and the FDA should be funded more because the clinical trials that they help with are really important to me and my friends.” Samantha was very proud of Logan. “It was incredible listening to Logan and Emma [the other CT delegate] talk about their diagnoses and life story of managing Type 1 and how it impacts them every day,” she explained. “In all three meetings the kids took out their pumps and sensors and showed how they work now, how they used to work, and what they wished for. The conversation with Blumenthal was a powerful conversation, as evidenced by his later press conference about insulin pricing that same afternoon.”
The children from all over the country, and world, also got a chance to network. “I met another delegate named Jackson on the plane from RI to DC, and we ended up becoming friends,” said Logan. “It was fun meeting all the other delegates from around the country and a few from around the world. We all had things in common, even the year we were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.” Samantha said, “I loved interacting with families that are really involved just like us and trying to make a difference all over the country.”
Now that it’s over, Logan says, “I feel accomplished! I feel that way because it was really stressful during those meetings to make sure I didn’t miss anything.” Samantha said, “I feel even more committed to JDRF now than we did prior [to this event] after seeing how much work they do to advocate for all of us on a day to day basis, and fight for research funding, access to care, affordable insulin, and or right to choose the diabetes supplies we want for our children.”
Both Logan and his mother were impressed with the event and the experience. “It is far better than any other advocacy thing I have done in my 11 years with Type 1,” said Logan. “It has changed my thinking of JDRF because I never knew Children’s Congress could be that awesome, and I could make that much of a difference. I plan on working with JDRF more to use my voice in CT.” Samantha said “Without a doubt, [this was] the most impactful diabetes event we have ever attended. Kudos to JDRF for their organization and flawless execution of the event. We will never forget this unique incredible experience or the people we have met. And we will never stop advocating. As Ryan Reed said, ‘People try to tell you what you can or can’t do with a disease you didn’t choose — that’s unacceptable.'”
Photos provided by the Merwin family.

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